THE first wave of coronavirus patients in central Scotland have fully recovered and returned to the community, NHS chiefs have said this week.

The Wee County – along with the rest of the UK – is entering the stage where those who had been infected early on would be coming out on the other side, as cases begin to increase.

The total number being treated by NHS Forth Valley rose to more than 100 this week, but the service is coping well with the situation.

But, during a media briefing on Monday, it was revealed that members of the public who tested positive for Covid–19 in the area during the early stages of the outbreak have now been given a clean bill of health.

The news comes as doctors look to dampen swelling fears of the epidemic in the region. The message, which was reported in the Advertiser last month, is that most people who contract coronavirus in Forth Valley will only experience "mild symptoms" before fully recovering.

Those key points were reiterated by NHS Forth Valley's Dr Graham Foster, following a recent video conference alongside Dr Andrew Murray.

The pair, who act as the health board's director of public health and medical director, respectively, both spent time answering questions from the media on Monday, March 30.

Focusing specifically on recovery, Dr Foster also said: "There hasn't been a lot of reporting about the number of people who've recovered, and we should start talking about it."

He told the Advertiser: "For the first cases we saw in Forth Valley, these individuals are now all fully recovered and back in the community and have moved on.

"These community cases are in general very mild, and the very first individuals were admitted so we could monitor them carefully.

"In general, people will recover in 7-10 days; they are not infectious anymore after seven days.

"The cough maybe takes two or three weeks to get better – but you're not infectious.

"If it's seven days and you're getting worse, you should be seeking medical advice."

And while neither doctor could give specific details of how many people are currently being treated for the virus at FV Royal Hospital, Dr Foster said: "The vast majority of people in hospital are not seriously unwell."

And though the number of people testing positive for coronavirus in the area is increasing, both doctors gave reasons as to why that shouldn't necessarily cause alarm.

Dr Murray said: "We are seeing the numbers increasing over the past week or two – [but that's] in keeping with the projections.

"It's only a very small number who would have to have inpatient treatment."

Dr Foster added to that point, and said: "We do still have hospital beds available, and intensive care beds available at this time – we still have capacity."

And not only that, but Doctor Murray said: "I would even go as far as to say we have significant capacity; that's because people are staying at home and being sensible."

On that final point, both doctors expressed their thanks to everyone in Clackmannanshire and elsewhere who have been following the government's guidance and only leaving home for essential purposes.

The pair also expressed their thanks to those who volunteered to help the area's NHS – revealing that hundreds of people had already offered their services.

Dr Murray said: "We've got over 400 people who've given their details to be part of that volunteer group.

"At the moment we're trying to match these individual's skills to suitable roles.

"It's a fantastic response from people in the community."

And there was even good news for those working within the area's NHS, as Dr Murray addressed the issue of personal protective equipment (PPE) being made available to medical staff.

He said: "There was a lot of anxiety about PPE and the key thing is our staff have the right protection for whatever roles they are carrying out.

"Supplies were never at a point where we could anticipate a new pandemic.

"There were a few teething problems, undoubtedly, but the last few days we are getting the right PPE in the right places."

The pair stressed that moving forward, the key thing everyone can do is continue following the government's advice and stay at home.

And for anyone feeling tempted to jump in the car and drive somewhere nice to take their daily exercise, Dr Foster had one message.

He said: "It's very simple: please, please, please, don't do it. It's as simple as that.

"We are asking people to stay at home, and people should only be leaving home if their trip is essential.

"Every time you journey in your car you run the risk of needing to get petrol, your car might break down, you might get in an accident.

"I can see one individual saying my one trip won't make a difference, but we all need to try.

"Please, please, please just don't do it."

Ending on an upbeat note, Dr Foster said: "If we stop the spread, we can get on top of this pandemic."