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Coronavirus / Covid cluster at Scalloway School as Shetland records 19 new cases

Rise in infection rate not unexpected, according to NHS Shetland – School will be open on Monday but Hame Fae Hame nursery will stay closed

PARENTS in the Scalloway area have received so-called ‘warn and inform’ letters from Shetland Islands Council following a Covid outbreak at Scalloway primary school.

The school will be open on Monday; however, those who have been identified as positive are isolating and PCR testing of contacts is underway.

The Hame Fae Hame nursery in the village will stay closed on Monday as one staff member is awaiting the result of a PCR test with all other staff members been told to self-isolate until the result is known.

It comes as 19 new Covid cases are confirmed for Shetland, the second largest number of new cases in any 24-hour period since the start of the pandemic in March last year.

This brings the number of new cases over the last seven days to 29 (today’s new cases not included), an incidence rate per 100,000-population of 126.8.

SIC director of children’s services Helen Budge said: “Following discussions with public health, and following the appropriate guidelines, the school will remain open on Monday and staff will continue to provide support for those pupils attending.

“Parents and staff have been contacted by the head teacher, and I’d like to reassure them that we are taking all the steps we can to ensure their safety while in the school.”

However, anyone experiencing any symptoms must stay at home and follow NHS guidance one self-isolation and getting tested.

NHS Shetland said it wanted to reassure parents that due to the high vaccination rates locally the risk to children and to other people becoming infected by the virus continues to be low.

Interim director of public health Dr Susan Laidlaw said the rise was not unexpected given the changes to national policy and restrictions.

“With regard the cases in Scalloway, we are working closely with the Scalloway School and the education department and following all Scottish Government and public health guidance for school settings,” she said.

“’Warn and Inform’ letters have been sent out for all the pupils and staff and we are identifying, isolating and PCR testing contacts.

“With all the measures we now have in place, and especially because of our high vaccination rates, the risks to children and other people when children become infected are very low.”

Current mitigation measure at all Shetland schools include:-

  • Updated school risk assessments;
  • Physical distancing requirements for staff are in place in all primary and secondary settings;
  • The use of face coverings for staff in primary settings and for staff and pupils in secondary settings;
  • The use of hand sanitisers throughout the school day;
  • Daily hand sanitisation for all children and young people on arrival at their setting;
  • One way systems throughout settings;
  • Enhanced daily cleaning during the school day and further cleaning undertaken daily at the end of each day;
  • Parents/carers being advised to avoid contact with other parents, children and young people at the school gates, on the way to school, and after school as well as wearing face coverings;
  • Careful monitoring to ensure the appropriate level of ventilation and adequate air flow throughout the buildings with CO2 monitors deployed, monitoring the level of CO2, and temperature in classrooms;
  • Access to asymptomatic, lateral flow, testing kits twice a week for all school and early learning and childcare staff and all secondary aged children;
  • Essential visitors to schools only; and
  • Peripatetic staff only being able to access one setting per day.

Dr Laidlaw added that everyone aged 16 and over is recommend to be vaccinated, and asked people who have not been vaccinated yet to contact the health board on telephone 01595 743319 or email shet.covidvaccinationscheduling@nhs.scot

Across Scotland 7,100 new cases were reported on Sunday.

Scotland’s incidence rate of 638.5 new cases over a seven-day period per 100,000 population is now one of the worst in Europe, in fact a recent graphic based on World Health Organisation data showed five Scottish NHS areas (Dumfries, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Lothian and Tayside) among 20 hot spots across Europe.

Lateral flow tests can be ordered online and usually arrive by post within two days using this link.

These tests can also be picked up locally from Test and Protect at the Greenhead Base in Lerwick, and some community pharmacies and GP practices.