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Coronavirus / Twenty three new Covid cases

Half of the new cases are primary school children, NHS Shetland says

A TOTAL of 23 new Covid cases have been reported in Shetland.

NHS Shetland said half of the cases are primary aged children and a number of schools are affected.

The health board said the significant rise in cases was “not unexpected” due to increasing numbers over the past few weeks and the amount of contact tracing which is taking place.

An NHS Shetland spokesperson said “typically, if one person in a household with children tests positive, then often the rest of the household also tests positive, including people who are vaccinated”.

However, they usually have mild symptoms, or no symptoms at all. But there are other “nasty coughs and colds around at the moment as well”.

Interim director of public health Dr Susan Laidlaw said: “Because of the large numbers of cases and contacts, there is a high demand on our testing service. The service prioritises all requests so that we can protect the most vulnerable people, generally those in health and social care settings.

“But other people, especially if an asymptomatic contact, will have to wait a little longer to get their swabs done at the pod, or get a self-swab kit, than previously.

“We understand, most people want to get their test done as quickly as possible after they have been identified as a contact, so they can stop isolating if it is negative (if they are vaccinated). But this is not always helpful as testing too soon will miss positive cases, so people do need to be aware of that.

“Please be patient and bear with our Test and Protect team who are contact tracing and processing test requests as quickly as they can.”

The advice to the Shetland community remains as before. To help prevent the spread of Covid and prevent serious illness:

  • wear face coverings (even when you don’t have to by law)
  • wash and sanitise hands
  • keep buildings well ventilated
  • take regular lateral flow tests when you have no symptoms
  • isolate with your household and request a PCR if you have covid symptoms (or a positive LFT) and take up the offer of flu and Covid vaccinations.

People are asked to remember that contact tracing is still based on close contact with someone who is infectious, so the “best way to avoid that is to keep your distance from others whenever you can and minimise how many people you are in contact with”.

Dr Laidlaw added: “Our vaccination teams are also working really hard because people in Shetland are generally very keen to get vaccinated but please be patient if you are waiting for an appointment or a call back.

“Our uptake rates are amongst the highest in Scotland, especially for the booster: 62% of people, aged over 50 have received a booster dose, and we have not yet even started calling the 50-59 age group. Two thirds of 12–15-year-olds have now been vaccinated with the recommended one dose, and overall 93.2% of everyone over 18 has received two doses.

“If we can continue to achieve these high uptakes, this will continue to prevent serious illness, hospitalisation and deaths, even if we have high numbers of new cases.

“We know that there has been further advice issued by JCVI regarding second dose for 16–17-year-olds and boosters for 40–49-year-olds. We are currently planning how we can increase capacity to include these groups, in the meantime, please do not contact us but wait for further information.”

Parents/carers also asked to be extra vigilant when children are unwell due increasing cases in education settings.

If a child has been issued a low-risk contact letter “we would encourage even if mild cold/cough symptoms to remain at home and to request a PCR test”.

Ashleigh Barclay, health protection nurse specialist, said “We’re seeing the return of other respiratory illnesses as COVID-19 precautions relax, including RSV, rhinovirus (common cold virus) and parainfluenza (the virus that causes croup and other respiratory infections).

“That’s why it’s important to take steps to keep your child and others safe and healthy. If your child shows signs of being sick, keep them home from school/nursery to avoid spreading germs . You should keep your child home when they have any of the following symptoms: fever, diarrhoea, vomiting , cough/congestion.

“Staff within education and the NHS are working closely together to try and minimise the risk of spread for lots of different winter bugs including COVID-19 and we appreciate parents/carers understanding at this time.”