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Coronavirus / More than 200 people tested for Covid-19 so far

NHS Shetland chief executive Michael Dickson. Photo: Chris Cope/Shetland News

OVER 200 people in the isles have been tested for Covid-19 so far, according to NHS Shetland chief executive Michael Dickson.

This includes 78 NHS staff tested for occupational health purposes, with a small percentage of employees testing positive. The number tested is 11 per cent of the 700-strong NHS workforce in the isles.

Speaking on Wednesday, the health board chief highlighted that “testing people without symptoms for Covid-19 may detect some who are infected but without symptoms, but may not detect all”.

“The test will not necessarily detect those who are incubating the illness who are pre-symptomatic, who may go on to develop symptoms despite an earlier negative test result,” Dickson said.

Tests were initially carried out on people displaying symptoms at a time when NHS Shetland was tracing people who had been in contact with positive cases.

However, as the government shifted its strategy in response to the spread of the disease, people with minor symptoms were told to stay home, with tests only being carried out on those who were clinically unwell – although some frontline staff have also been tested.

With Shetland home to around 23,000 people, the number of those tested so far amounts to around one per cent of the population.

As of Tuesday (15 April) 45 tests from Shetland had returned positive results.

By comparison, the neighbouring Faroe Islands have so far tested around 11 per cent of its population (5,602 tests as of two days ago).

Most people affected in Faroe have recovered, with only 21 ‘active’ cases of Covid-19 as of yesterday (14 April), and no new cases confirmed for a week.

Speaking with regards to testing in care homes, Dickson said: “We are testing in care homes in line with our pandemic plan which includes looking at clusters of symptomatic patients.

“To our knowledge these figures are not in the public domain.”

The health chief also said a “number” of people have been admitted to the Gilbert Bain Hospital in Lerwick who have presented with respiratory symptoms that could have indicated the presence of Covid-19.

All of them were barrier nursed and tested, and all patients who have tested positive have been recorded in the Scottish Government figures which are released daily.

NHS Shetland re-opened the Ronas Ward in the hospital to dedicate space to treating Covid-19 patients.