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Health / Coronavirus gets a mention at IJB

THE EFFECT coronavirus could potentially have on healthcare budgets was raised at a meeting of the isles’ integration joint board on Thursday.

Councillor Allison Duncan asked at the integration joint board meeting if there was any contingency budget for the year ahead in reference to any possible outbreak of the virus locally.

Finance officer Karl Williamson said the hope is that the UK government would cover any additional expense down the line, but right now the costs would have to be absorbed.

“Things may change over the next weeks and months,” he said.

North Mainland councillor Emma Macdonald, however, struck a note of caution.

“It’s no different than flu. We don’t know how bad it’s going to be,” she said, encouraging it to be “kept in perspective”.

“We manage things like the flu all the time.”

Integration joint board chief officer Simon Bokor-Ingram said if government financial support is on offer then “as long as we are able to quantify our costs then we will have a case”.

Councillor Andrea Manson, meanwhile, questioned if there was the possibility of introducing a triage system at Victoria Pier in Lerwick to pre-assess anyone coming off a cruise ship.

She said the cruise season already puts “enormous pressure on the Gilbert Bain” and by having a presence on the pier it could also potentially limit the number of ambulance or taxi trips needed for passengers.

Members were told that Shetland’s emergency planning forum was “satisfied” with the plans in place.