WEST Dunbartonshire’s high Covid-19 death rate has raised serious concerns amongst local politicians, with the town’s MSP linking the figures to the area’s deprivation levels.

The most recent data published by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) shows there have been 99 deaths from Covid-19 in West Dunbartonshire.

And figures from the week before revealed the number of fatalities were 86 - a death rate of about eight people per 10,000.

This was the second highest rate across the country, behind Inverclyde, where it was around 12 deaths per 10,000 people.

Gil Paterson, Clydebank’s MSP, told the Post: “This is a UK and worldwide phenomenon: where mainly former industrial communities have gone into decline, and living standards like low pay and benefits are evident, then these are the places that are paying a heavy toll to the coronavirus.”

Earlier this year the Post reported the latest update of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) showed parts of Dalmuir, Radnor Park and Drumry are within the five per cent most deprived areas in the country.

Following the release of the NRS figures, West Scotland MSP Neil Bibby urged the Scottish Government to “investigate the alarming situation”.

The MSP added: “We need to understand why West Dunbartonshire and the west of Scotland appears to be disproportionately affected by this virus. Too many families have said goodbye to a loved one.

“In parliament I called on health secretary Jeane Freeman to explain what additional resources will be made available to West Dunbartonshire and surrounding areas which are reporting a death rate above the national average.

Read more: C lydebank residents invited to have their say on coronavirus response

“I’m pleased that Ms Freeman said Public Health Scotland (PHS) will look at the figures, and she said health boards can ask for more money if they need it. This investigation should be carried out urgently and its conclusions published.

“I am clear that areas reporting a death rate in excess of the national average should receive additional support.”

Across West Dunbartonshire, 48 Covid-19 deaths took place in care homes, 47 in hospital, and four at home.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Ms Freeman said: “I have never thought that the virus would affect us all equally.

“The health inequalities that people across Scotland suffer are significantly exacerbated, if not caused, by income inequality, and that will play a part in an individual’s capacity to withstand the virus, just as age and other clinical conditions do.

“We have asked PHS to look at the figures and the factors that might contribute to them, and then advise us of its conclusions.

“That work is under way. We have made it clear to the relevant health boards that, if they require additional resources to help them tackle what they need to tackle in their area, they should make sure that we understand that so that we can assist them.”

But Mr Paterson said he was “appalled” at Mr Bibby raising the issue in the way that he did.

He said: “He has obviously forgotten that Labour MPs, including the one that represented West Dunbartonshire, voted to bring in the austerity that brought additional untold poverty to this community.

“Ever since the SNP have come to power we have tried our best to rectify this error with measures like free prescriptions, child support for nurseries, pay for carers, free school meals, funding new socially rented housing, the list goes on.

“It is just a pity Labour helped more people into poverty in the first place.”