An outbreak of COVID-19 cases is sweeping its way through Bute House Nursing Home, Cumnock.

The Chronicle first received reports from members of the public that there were three cases confirmed at the care home and potentially up to 12 residents and a number of staff affected.

Those claims were confirmed this morning with health officials saying they are working with the care home to supress the virus and treat those affected.

Eddie Fraser, director of East Ayrshire Health & Social Care Partnership said: "NHS Ayrshire & Arran’s Health Protection Team are working closely with a care home in East Ayrshire, where a number of individuals have either a confirmed or suspected case of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. 

"Following updated national guidance, all residents and staff are being offered testing. 

"We appreciate this is a very worrying time. However, we would like to assure people that every measure is being taken to protect residents and staff. 

When asked about the outbreak at Bute House, the Care Inspectorate, the body which scrutinises the quality of care in nursing homes, said: “We are aware of suspected COVID-19 at Bute House.

“We are in close contact with the care service and the local health and social care partnership.

“All of Scotland’s social care sector is working tirelessly under very difficult circumstances to care for people during the pandemic and the Care Inspectorate is doing all it can to support them.” 

Care homes across Ayrshire have been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with outbreaks across the county.

The sad news comes as the public are beginning to emerge from a long lockdown period, with many keen to get out and about in the community again. 

Lockdown measures were recently eased to allow unlimited exercise and the return of golfing, angling and bowls amongst other sports and activities.

But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned the public that Scotland could return to a full lockdown unless social distancing measures are observed - or if infection figures begin to rise again.