Coronavirus / Get tested for Covid before travelling to the Northern Isles, health boards urge visitors

FOLLOWING the recent surge in Covid cases in the Northern Isles, the health boards in Shetland and Orkney have come out in the strongest terms yet appealing to those visiting or returning to the isles to get tested before flying or taking the ferry north.

Both NHS Shetland and NHS Orkney say that any large Covid outbreak would put the small health teams under a huge strain.

Since 19 June Shetland has had 24 new cases while in Orkney at some time last week as many as 1,000 islanders were told to self-isolate while awaiting the outcome of PCR tests.

On Sunday, Shetland recorded no new cases, while Orkney had one more added to its tally.

The seven day rate for Covid infections per 100,000 people in Shetland and Orkney remains well below the national average – however, resources available in the isles to deal with any outbreak are limited.


A spokesperson for the health boards said on Sunday: “Both NHS Shetland and NHS Orkney are made up of small teams who have worked tirelessly over the last 15 months to contain the pandemic and keep our communities safe.

“But a surge in Covid cases puts the local health service, and other support services, under huge strain.

“In Shetland and Orkney our hospital facilities have no Intensive Care Units, if anyone required intensive care facilities, or other specialist clinical services, for Covid then they would have to be transferred by air ambulance to a mainland hospital, more than likely in Aberdeen.”

To reduce the risk of unknowingly bringing Covid to the Northern Isles, people are requested to take the following precautions before they travel: 

  • Complete a lateral flow device (LFD) test three days before you travel;
  • Repeat this again on the day of travel;
  • Delay your trip and book a PCR test if your LFD test is positive – even if you have no symptoms;
  • Delay your trip, self-isolate and book a PCR test if you have Covid symptoms (new continuous cough or high temperature or loss/ change in sense of taste or smell).

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While in Shetland or Orkney follow the Public Health guidance. This includes:

  • Wearing a face-covering where required;
  • Social distancing where required;
  • Washing hands;
  • Meeting with others outside, if you can;
  • Ensuring good ventilation if indoors;
  • Ensuring you have been vaccinated if eligible;
  • Doing regular lateral flow tests if you have no symptoms.

If developing Covid symptoms in Shetland people should immediately self-isolate and book a PCR test via the NHS Shetland website.

In Orkney people should call the Covid assessment centre on 01856 888211 for advice. More information on the NHS Orkney website.

Lateral flow tests can be ordered free of charge from the Scottish Government. More info and a link to order rapid LFT can be found at the NHS Inform website.

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