ANOTHER four new Covid-19 cases were recorded today (Thursday).
NHS Shetland’s public health consultant Dr Susan Laidlaw said that as before these are people who were known contacts of confirmed cases.
However, the local laboratory is still processing tests of more people who were living with folk already positive.
“We are finding that once one person is infected, then the whole household or family often gets infected too,” Dr Laidlaw said.
“Our contact tracers are working through an extremely long list of people who have been exposed to positive cases and it is still likely there will be more infections. We are by no means out of the woods yet.”
The number of positive cases in the current cluster, which started around 19 December in the North Mainland, is 58.
This cluster has now spread across mainland Shetland with cases in many other areas.
Dr Laidlaw said that in some cases contact tracers were “having difficult conversations with people who possibly could not believe they had been exposed to the virus or indeed tested positive”.
“The best thing that we can all do is to remain calm, and follow all the guidance that everyone is well aware of by now to protect ourselves and our community,” she added.
“Many of us love to celebrate New Year but we are appealing to the community to stay at home tonight and tomorrow and not go out visiting or mixing with other people.
“We do not know how many more people there are in Shetland who are infectious but completely unaware of it, and the best way to reduce your risk is to minimise any contact with other people outside your household.”
NHS Shetland chairman Gary Robinson, meanwhile, said that having 1.6 per cent of the population self-isolating “sadly points towards us having more cases before the situation starts to get any better”.
The health board said on Wednesday that over 300 people in Shetland were isolating.
“The important thing now is for folk to abide by the Tier 3 rules to avoid making a bad situation worse,” Robinson said.
Robinson stressed the need to stick to the guidance tonight for New Year’s Eve.
He also encouraged anyone “who thought it would be a fun not to sign in, or to use a joke name, false phone number or even just has bad handwriting when visiting a hospitality venue to set the record straight”.
“It might have been funny at the time but it’s not funny any more. It’s vitally important that we find all of the contacts of confirmed cases before they potentially pass on the virus to friends, colleagues or relatives.”
Robinson said the public health team has been “very clear that they don’t believe that it was anyone law-breaking that started the outbreak”.
He praised Busta House Hotel for being open about having two positive households dining with them earlier this month, and for having some staff later test positive too.
Robinson said Shetland’s protection level will be reassessed on Tuesday and “dependent upon how the situation looks after the weekend, we might go up but we certainly won’t be going down”.
“At the moment the cases all appear to be connected which bodes well for our ability to close the outbreak down but its sheer size remains a concern,” he said.
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