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Coronavirus / Council convener calls for community to pull together amid rise in cases

It comes as two more Covid cases were confirmed overnight

SIC convener Malcolm Bell.

SHETLAND Islands Council convener Malcolm Bell has called on the community to pull together over the coming weeks as the number of coronavirus cases continue to rise.

He said the “advice from our public health specialists is very clear – we must all do what we can over the next couple of weeks to minimise the contact we have with others”.

Meanwhile, NHS Shetland has confirmed another two positive tests overnight, bringing the total number connected to the current outbreak to 36.

Consultant in public health Dr Susan Laidlaw said that both cases were linked to the original positive cases in the North Mainland, either directly or through household spread.

More than 120 people have been asked to self-isolate following the cluster of cases linked to the North Mainland.

Bell said that “we find ourselves in an unfortunate situation, but we have been here before and the resilience shown by the community over recent months has been outstanding”.

He added that the message to minimise contact is hard especially ahead of Hogmanay, “but the situation does warrant it and I’m confident everyone will do what they can to stay within the current rules”.

“If you were one of those who were shielding during the first lockdown, you should be especially careful about moving around now, and make arrangements for someone to help with shopping and other chores,” Bell continued.

“Remember that there is help available through the local Support Hub – just phone 0800 030 8780 – and this may be particularly useful if you find yourself suddenly having to isolate.

“We can – and will – get on top of this latest outbreak, but we do need everyone to play their part.”

The Whalsay ferry Linga berthing at Vidlin. Photo: SIC

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Cash payments, meanwhile, have now been suspended on inter-island ferries in response to the outbreak.

Chairman of the council’s environment and transport committee Ryan Thomson also said it has been “incredibly disappointing to hear of many breaches” on the ferries.

Since Boxing Day public transport, including ferries, has been limited to essential travel only as part of level three restrictions.

Thomson said people have been visiting the isles on day trips.

“These breaches are not only irresponsible and incredibly selfish, putting at risk other people, and our hard working ferry crews, but any unnecessary trips on the ferries are now illegal under tier three restrictions,” he said.

“Think about your travel on ferries. If it’s unnecessary, you should not go.”

In more changes to services as a result of the rise in cases, Shetland Library will remain closed for the immediate future.

It was due to reopen yesterday (Tuesday) but it will stay closed this week and the next.

Library books can be ordered using the ‘Connect and Collect’ service by ordering online or by phone, and picked up from the Library.

Customers can also use the home delivery service that has been operating since May. New customers can phone the library if they wish to use this service.

Clickimin Leisure Complex will also remain closed until 18 January.

Subscriptions will be frozen for January and no payment collected from customers.

Customers who already have bookings made will be contacted early in the New Year.

All rural leisure centres were already scheduled to be closed from 4 to 18 January.

A host of shops and businesses across Shetland are also deciding to remain shut amid the rise in cases.

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