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Coronavirus / Hospital visitors urged to ‘flow before you go’

Gilbert Bain Hospital. Photo: Shetland News

RELATIVES and friends coming to visit someone in the Gilbert Bain Hospital in Lerwick are being urged to take a Covid lateral flow test beforehand.

NHS Shetland is continuing to support up to two visitors per patient in the maternity unit, ward one and ward three.

Visits must be arranged with ward staff in advance and a name and contact number will be recorded in case NHS Shetland needs to get in touch again.

Depending on the needs of patients on individual wards and the layout of the ward, visitors may be asked to attend one at a time.

But NHS Shetland is stressing the importance of taking a lateral flow test prior to visiting.

Chief nurse (acute) Amanda McDermott said: “We know how important it is for people in hospital to maintain contact with loved ones and we will support that wherever possible.

“We need the general public to work with us and take an LFD [lateral flow device] test before every visit. If it is positive, they must start self-isolation and book a PCR test.

“Whilst Covid is a significant concern, we need visitors to remember other illnesses are out there and we would ask you also do not visit if you are suffering from a cold, flu or norovirus.

“We know there will be emergencies where it is neither possible nor practical to take a test before coming into hospital. We are not making a negative test result a condition of entry for hospital visitors.

“What we are doing is urging the public to pick up a test kit and carry out a test before every planned hospital visit.”

Meanwhile some local businesses are tightening their own rules around lateral flow tests.

Lerwick’s Tooth and Nail Barber Surgeons for instance is now requiring customers to take a test prior to their appointment to ensure staff and clients do not need to isolate over Christmas.

Supplies of lateral flow tests via the UK Government website, however, have run dry again this morning (Friday).

Tests are available to collect for free from chemists but locally numbers have been up and down in recent days due to a supply issue.

Earlier this week people were advised to ask for tests from the Test and Protect base at Greenhead Base in Lerwick if they needed a box urgently.

A spokesperson for NHS Shetland said on Friday morning that there were still supplies at the Greenhead Base office, and more are expected next week.

“The pharmacy supplies come through a different route which NHS Shetland has no control over,” she said.

“We have been told any delays are due to transport and not supply issues.

“We understand that currently there are maximum numbers of kits that the UK online system can send out per day across UK, and specifically to Scotland, and once that is reached there are no more available that day.”