A total of 14 people across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray have died in the highest daily death total for Grampian since the pandemic began.
Seven people from Aberdeen, six from Aberdeenshire and one from Moray were among the 78 deaths recorded by the Scottish Government over a 24-hour period yesterday.
Across the north and north-east of Scotland, Covid cases increased by 408 during the same timeframe.
In Scotland, the total number of cases stands at 143,715 and the death toll across the country is 4,779.
Jillian Evans, the head of health intelligence at NHS Grampian, said staff at the health board are feeling exhausted with the pressures brought about by the virus on its hospitals and services.
She said she and colleagues felt “palpable relief” when the first minister announced the new lockdown measures this week, but argued not enough people are taking the stay at home message seriously enough.
Ms Evans highlighted people going shopping daily instead of once a week as a potential problem, and urged north-east residents to think and act more like they did in the initial lockdown last April.
She said: “We’ve had a rapid acceleration of cases in our communities in the past week, it is everywhere.
“A lot of it will be down to Christmas and New Year, but it’s the new variant that’s concerning us now more than ever.
“We are expecting the numbers to continue rising.
“Even now our hospitals and care homes are under such severe pressure, we’re close to the 90% occupancy mark and have been now for several days in a row.
“We’ve also got issues with staff absence, many staff themselves are self-isolating and having to stay at home, so the whole situation is one of extreme pressure.
“Everybody can make a contribution here. We’re meant to be in what is supposed to be a lockdown situation, but it doesn’t really feel like the way it did back in April, there’s lots of traffic on the road, and people going about.
“If we want to avoid this really highly contagious strain, the only way we can do that is to limit face-to-face social interaction with others.
“The longer this goes on, people will become more accepting of the action they need to take, and I hope they do it sooner rather than later.
“Don’t go shopping every day, avoid getting take-away coffees and things like that, and think back to April – are you behaving in the way you did last April, and can you do that again?”
North-east regional Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald said: “These latest figures confirm that Covid-19 is circulating almost everywhere, and they emphasise the importance of the restrictions which have been put in place to try to bring the pandemic under control.
“Front-line health and care workers have rightly been given priority for vaccination, as they are working so hard to contain this virus in our behalf.”
The Aberdeenshire West MSP Alexander Burnett, of the Tories, added: “The people behind these deeply worrying figures are all family, friends and neighbours.
“There is cause for hope as the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine rolls out across Scotland and the north-east – a major development.
“As we head deeper into winter, it’s imperative that jabs get to the most vulnerable in our society along with frontline workers.”
And the SNP’s Stephen Flynn, MP for Aberdeen South, said: “My thoughts are with the friends and family of those who have died – this is a very sad reminder, if we ever needed one, of how dangerous the virus is.
“Well over half of all care home residents have now been vaccinated in Scotland which is undoubtedly positive news, but clearly we must all do our level best to protect as many lives as possible until the vaccine is rolled out completely.
“They say the darkest hour is right before the dawn and so with these deeply alarming figures, it’s vital that every single one of us follows the rules to stop the spread of the virus – stay at home, protect our NHS, save lives.”