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Coronavirus / Community urged to remain vigilant after health board identifies no new Covid cases

Health chief pays tribute to NHS Shetland staff who worked tirelessly through Christmas and New Year period

FOR THE first time in almost two weeks no new cases of Covid-19 were identified in Shetland during the last 24 hours.

The total number of confirmed cases in the current outbreak continues to stand at 72 with several hundred people still self-isolating.

Consultant in public health Dr Susan Laidlaw said the total of the current cluster would probably still rise as testing was ongoing.

However, for the first time since before Christmas she was slightly more upbeat in analysing the figures.

“I am feeling cautiously optimistic and hoping that the impact of the Shetland community staying at home and not socialising is starting to show results,” she said.

“Most of the cases we have been picking up are within families. When people stay and home and don’t mix with others outside their household the R rate or infection rate drops right back.”

Dr Laidlaw continued: “With regards to the current outbreak we do not know how many other people in Shetland may be infectious but showing no symptoms,” adding that it was imperative for everyone to continue to stay at home as far as they could and to try to minimise contact outside their household.

“Of course, it is really important to make sure that people who are isolated, lonely or vulnerable get the support they need, but this has to be done safely. Following the FACTS guidance and Level 3 restrictions remains crucial to keeping the situation contained,” she said.

“Getting outdoors is fine, and is a really good way to get exercise and help to improve mental health. But if you meet someone you know while you are out, then just keep back from each other.”

NHS Shetland chief executive Michael Dickson said health teams had worked through Christmas and New Year to control the outbreak.

“People have come off annual leave, and are working weekends, public holidays, days off and through the night to get this situation under control,” he said.

“I would like to say thank you to the team in the hospital, the contact tracers, the laboratory staff, the social work hub, the testing co-ordinators and drivers, the ‘swabbers’ at the pod and in the community, the health improvement team and the public health team for what has been an incredible effort.”

Shetland remains in level three. To understand the rules of level three visit: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-protection-levels/pages/protection-level-3/