SHETLAND is expected to see more new Covid cases, possibly daily, over coming weeks as a result of the latest coronavirus wave driven by the Delta variant and the easing of movement restrictions.
And as the country slowly shifts its focus from protecting people to actively managing the pandemic similar to other infectious diseases, a growing number of people are likely to contract the virus without suffering serious health consequences.
NHS Shetland’s interim director for public health Dr Susan Laidlaw said it was not possible to stop Covid cases emerging in the isles, but the local health teams were still working hard to identify and isolate every case and get in touch with contacts.
On Wednesday NHS Shetland recorded another three cases, while Scotland-wide there was a record 3,887 new cases, including public health minister Maree Todd, the MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross.
Dr Laidlaw said most of the latest cases locally – 29 since 17 June – are people who have travelled back to Shetland and who contacted the NHS after getting a positive LFT result or requested a PCR test after developing symptoms.
“We cannot stop that, but we can try and identify cases quickly through people getting tested and contact trace so that folk are isolated if they are potentially infectious,” she said.
Dr Laidlaw added that the focus was on getting the adult population fully vaccinated followed by an extended flu vaccine and Covid booster programme.
“The highest numbers of cases are now in the groups that are less likely to be vaccinated ie younger age groups,” the public health consultant said.
“This means that there is a drive to get as much of the adult population as possible vaccinated to take full advantage of the positive effects of the vaccine before more restrictions are eased.
“Even though fewer people are in hospital with Covid, our NHS services in Scotland are still under pressure because of the impact of disruption to services over the past 15 months; the delivery of the vaccination programme (and planning an extended flu vaccine and Covid booster programme) and the continued work of the Test and Protect teams.”
The latest Public Health Scotland figures show that in Shetland more than three quarters of the adult population (77.2 per cent) is fully vaccinated – the third highest rate of all health boards in Scotland – while 92.7 per cent of islanders have had their first dose.
Dr Laidlaw added: “We do anticipate that there will be changes to the way cases and contacts are managed as there is more evidence about the impact of vaccination on the population.
“But of course, it is still possible that other variants will emerge that need to be managed differently.”
Meanwhile local MSP Beatrice Wishart is reaching out to ‘long-Covid’ constituents recovering from coronavirus in a bid to gain an understanding of local demand for medical assistance.
“I would urge anyone suffering from ‘long-Covid’ to get in contact with their GP in the first instance. You can also contact me with any surrounding issues you may face,” she said.
“It is only with an accurate understanding of how many people are still recuperating from Covid-19 that we can get the medical assistance Shetland patients need.
“Covid-19 has had a large impact on so many of our lives. For some every day is now a struggle after contracting Covid-19. We cannot leave those people to suffer in silence.”
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