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Coronavirus / Seven more Covid cases confirmed

More than 300 people are now self-isolating

SEVEN more cases of coronavirus have been confirmed – with more than 300 people now self-isolating.

NHS Shetland said on Wednesday evening that the number of cases in the current cluster is now 43.

Consultant in public health Dr Susan Laidlaw said at least six of the people who have tested positive today are known to have been in contact with other confirmed cases, with contact tracers working with the seventh person to understand their contacts.

“We now have more than 300 people isolating with some of those initially infected or contact traced starting to come out of isolation,” she said.

“We are confident that we understand the spread of the virus in this current outbreak, and that all the appropriate measures are being taken to control the situation.

“However it does remain very serious, and we are likely to see more positive cases before things, hopefully, settle down again. And although most people currently have a relatively mild illness, we still may see people becoming seriously unwell.

“Even with all the extensive contact tracing and testing, there may well be more people in Shetland who have picked up the virus, are infectious but have absolutely no symptoms. This is why it is so important to minimise contact with other people, always maintain physical distancing, wear masks and wash hands. It would not take much to spark another outbreak.”

There was no mention, meanwhile, of Shetland by first minister Nicola Sturgeon in the Scottish Parliament today as MSPs received a Covid-19 update. The next scheduled review of protection levels is set for Tuesday 5 January.

NHS Shetland added that one of the biggest challenges facing contract tracers has been that names and telephone numbers given by people visiting restaurants and cafes are sometimes inaccurate.

“This significantly slows down the contact tracing process and can mean that people who have been exposed to the virus and may be infected, cannot be contacted and then do not know to self isolate and protect others,” Dr Laidlaw said.

“We appeal to everyone in our community to give the correct information when visiting these hospitality venues and to think about the consequences of not doing this properly.

NHS Shetland also reiterated the warning over celebrating Hogmanay – with the best advice being to stay at home.

“The impact the outbreak might have on the elderly and vulnerable was of great concern and, while anyone could become ill, it was the elderly who are most at risk of serious illness,” Dr Laidlaw said.

“We have increased the already stringent precautions to protect the most vulnerable people in our cares homes especially, and sadly at present, cannot allow indoor visiting unless absolutely essential.

“All infection control precautions are being reviewed and reinforced. We are appealing to every individual in our community, no matter how young or old you are, to consider others in everything you do. We can stop this but we have to work together.”

Negative comments on social media that attacked those who had tested positive were also unhelpful, the health board said.

“This is a highly contagious airborne virus,” Dr Laidlaw said.

“Blaming people won’t stop it spreading. Anyone can be infected at any time but following all the guidance and minimising contact with other people will help to slow it down.”