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News round-up / Government looking at increasing test capacity, booking time changes for ferries, young runner’s success

SCOTTISH health secretary Jeane Freeman has confirmed that repurposing test equipment from other industries such as salmon farming was under “active consideration” after being urged by Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart to explore all options to increase the isles’ testing capacity.

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart. Photo: Malcolm Younger/Millgaet Media

Last month, Shetland News revealed that the local salmon farming industry had offered equipment and, if needed, laboratory space, but this was turned down by the local health board because the test environment would not meet national guidelines.

Quizzing the health secretary today, Wishart said similar equipment had been used in Faroe to increase testing capacity.

In response, Freeman acknowledged that “speed of turnaround” of samples is “critical” for the effectiveness of the ‘test, trace, isolate and support’ approach, and confirmed that using repurposing equipment from other industries was under “active consideration”.

Wishart said: “Faroe has been successful in re-purposing equipment and laboratories used to test fish to test for coronavirus. If that could be done in Shetland too, those options should be fully explored.”

SHETLAND Islands Council is introducing further restrictions on the the use of inter-island ferries.

From Monday the deadline for booking travel on ferries will be extended from the current 30 minutes before departure to one hour.

The council said the move should have little or no impact on travel but would further improve the efficiency and reliability of services by reducing fuel consumption and emissions, and provide crews with more time to carry out duties onboard the vessels.

Ferry users are reminded that vessels will not travel if no bookings are received before one hour prior to the scheduled departure time.


Bookings can be made online at www.shetland.gov.uk/ferries/bookings.asp or by phoning the ferries booking office on 01595 745804 or by emailing ferrybooking@shetland.gov.uk

Rhian Birnie.

A YOUNG cross-country runner from Aberdeenshire with strong links to Shetland came second in a global virtual 5K race at the end of April.

Eleven year old Rhian Birnie is the grandchild of William Leask, originally from Bigton, while her coach at Young Meldrum Runner is Mark Wylie who worked at the Clickimin Leisure Centre for 30 years before moving to Aberdeenshire a few years ago.

A field of 435 runners from 21 countries completed the 5K run on their own close to their homes and then submitted their times via running watch apps.

Rhian completed her run in a quick time of 20m11s. A few days later she managed to smash the 20-minute barrier when she clocked 19m06s for the 5K distance.

Wylie described it as an “astonishing time for an 11-year-old girl. “