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Coronavirus / Health board confident Covid case numbers are coming down again

ISLANDERS have been asked to continue acting sensibly and observe all the well-publicised Covid guidelines as the Christmas entertainment season gets under way.

Shetland has had some of the highest infection rates in Scotland over recent weeks with more than 100 newly confirmed cases recorded over a seven day period.

On Monday, seven new cases were added to the total which now stands at 973 since the pandemic began in March last year.

However, health professionals from NHS Shetland said they were confident numbers were coming down after two main sources of infection were contained and dealt with.

These were a private family function around two weeks ago when several families got together to celebrate a birthday at a hired venue.

Consultant in public health Dr Dermot Gorman said 18 mainly young adults got infected, setting off a flurry of test and trace activities.

Separately, NHS Shetland confirmed it was also dealing with a significant number of cases among younger age school kids, particularly at Tingwall Primary School. Some teachers also tested positive.

Dr Gorman said the vast majority of those confirmed positive had very little symptoms, either because they were young or had been vaccinated.

He said that thanks to Shetland’s high rate of vaccination – currently 86.4 per cent of people 12 years of age and older have had two doses of the vaccine – no one has been reported seriously ill, and the health board has no-one with Covid in hospital.

“A big chunk of these cases has been in youngsters who have not been eligible for vaccination. We have gone out to find them, these people are positive, but they are quite well,” Dr Gorman said.

Public health principal Elizabeth Robinson added: “We are not seeing the level of illness that we were seeing in earlier outbreaks.”

However, Covid has not gone away and both health professionals were keen to urge people to act with a degree of caution when socialising indoors over coming weeks.

“Follow the social distancing as best as one can and don’t have huge parties with people from far and wide,” Dr Gorman said, adding that the single most important precaution was to get vaccinated, and to do lateral flow tests regularly.

Robinson added: “It is possible to have a good time but to do it safely.”