Coronavirus / Health chief says Covid cases are being recorded with ‘no obvious route of infection’

Michael Dickson also explains why vaccination figures are lower than other island areas

THERE continues to be transmission of Covid within the community with no or few symptoms, NHS Shetland’s chief executive has warned.

Michael Dickson said while most positive tests are linked to the North Mainland outbreak, there are also cases with “no obvious route of infection such as a positive contact or travel”.

“It is therefore imperative that we do all that we can to stick to the rules to eliminate the virus from Shetland,” he said.

Shetland has recorded around 100 new cases of coronavirus since Christmas following a cluster of cases originating in the North Mainland.

Hundreds of people have been told to self-isolate during the outbreak, and the tally of cases is continuing to rise, although at a reduced rate.

In Public Health Scotland’s latest update yesterday (Wednesday) one new death of a Shetland patient with Covid was also confirmed.

NHS Shetland chief executive Michael Dickson. Photo: Shetland News

Dickson reiterated that “we all need to stay really alert to Covid-19 symptoms – even if you think it is only a cold, you should stay at home and request a test”.

Symptoms include a new continuous cough, a high temperature and loss of taste and smell.

“The public health team is hearing that people have mild cold symptoms which then go on to develop into the common Covid-19 symptoms a few days later,” Dickson said.

The health chief also confirmed in a social media post that the health board is looking at what it can do to offer more testing for those with very early symptoms.

He also said the new, more spreadable strain of coronavirus which has caused major concern on the mainland has not been found in Shetland.

Dickson, meanwhile, sought to explain figures which showed that Shetland has so far delivered fewer vaccines than Orkney and the Western Isles.

Data released yesterday (Wednesday) showed that as of 11 January, 669 people (or 3.57 per cent of the population) had received their first dose of the vaccine whereas 968 people were vaccinated in Orkney (5.18 per cent) and 1,518 (6.76 per cent) in the Western Isles.

“It is correct that the other island boards have delivered more vaccines than NHS Shetland at this very early stage,” Dickson explained.

“What has to be taken into account is our vaccine arrived later than the other islands, we have more care homes including those on outer isles that we couldn’t initially transport the vaccine to and our system aims to keep people at home instead of a care home.

“For the wider roll out we are working with Shetland GP practices after all they are experts in vaccinations and this needed the Astra Zeneca vaccine.

“Health boards are using the models of vaccine delivery that were developed for the flu vaccination programme in 2020 which suit the needs of our individual communities.

“Rolling this out across our community will take time and huge effort. You don’t measure a marathon by who has got across the start line first.”