It has been another incredibly difficult year for East Lothian residents.

While the rollout of the vaccination programme has helped minimise some of the harm which can be caused, Covid-19 continues to present a risk to public health. Unfortunately, cases continue to be reported, including here in East Lothian.

Many of us are looking forward to spending time with our friends and loved ones over the Christmas and New Year period.

Although it is a less restrictive time than at other stages of the pandemic, I would urge people in East Lothian to continue to be on their guard and follow the really important national public health messages and advice which can help keep us all safe.

Getting vaccinated is seen as being the single biggest thing that any of us can do to protect ourselves, our loved ones and communities from the potentially devastating effects of the virus.

Another important measure we can all take is to get tested regularly – even if you feel well. We know that it’s possible to have Covid-19 without showing symptoms, which means the virus can be passed on to others without knowing an individual is infectious.

It is particularly important to do this if you are going out, visiting or meeting up with others.

Lateral flow home testing kits can be ordered online or delivered to your home, as well as being available from some community pharmacies and for collection at our testing centre in Musselburgh.

We’re also organising pop-up collection services within communities – look out for further details of these on social media.

Anyone who tests positive after taking a lateral flow test should book a PCR test and self-isolate.

My message to East Lothian residents is simple – remember to take a lateral flow before you go.

Doing this can help to detect infection, prevent onward spread and help everyone to enjoy a happy and peaceful Christmas, and hopefully a better and brighter 2022.

Councillor Norman Hampshire

Leader of East Lothian Council