Wednesday 28 February 2024
 6.7°C   S Strong Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Coronavirus / Spike in Covid cases not having impact on hospital admissions at present

But due to national modelling it could be a few more weeks until ‘we know that it [the Omicron variant] genuinely is milder’, public health official says

Lerwick's Gilbert Bain Hospital. Photo: Shetland News

THE SURGE in Covid cases in Shetland has yet to have an impact on hospital admissions – with most people having mild symptoms or none at all.

More than 200 cases have been confirmed locally in the last fortnight as the more spreadable Omicron variant takes hold.

But NHS Shetland’s interim public health director Dr Susan Laidlaw said most people are having cold-like symptoms – or none at all.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon previously said studies suggest the risk of hospitalisation from Omicron is lower than other strains of the virus.

While there has been no real effect on the Gilbert Bain Hospital, Dr Laidlaw did say however that national modelling suggests admissions may only be impacted in the next couple of weeks.

“There are some people who are reporting being more unwell and more what you’d describe as a flu-like illness, but equally there are people who have got that [these symptoms] who are testing negative on PCRs, so there’s something else going around as well,” she told a media briefing on Wednesday.

“But generally, it’s a very mild illness or no symptoms at all, and it’s not impacting on the hospital at present.

“But we know nationally that the modelling shows that we wouldn’t necessarily expect an impact on admissions until maybe the next couple of weeks, so although it’s been fine from that point of view so far, and the biggest impact has been around staff having to isolate, there’s still a few more weeks to go before we know that it genuinely is milder and is not increasing hospitalisations.”

She confirmed that there have been a few overnight admissions to hospital, but no-one has been seriously unwell.

Sometimes people come in for other reasons, and it has picked up that they have Covid, or they have come in for a very short time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


“But if we have two or three people who are needing intensive care, or even needing a lengthy in-patient stay in isolation, that’s a big impact for us,” Dr Laidlaw continued.

The public health official highlighted that the hospital is always busy in winter regardless.

“They’re certainly working hard in the hospital still,” she said.

Dr Laidlaw added that it “certainly does seem to be that the booster dose does protect against ending up in hospital or being severely unwell”.

There is the hope that the high vaccination rate in Shetland will help to protect the community.

Meanwhile there are no particular geographic clusters of Covid cases in the recent surge, with the virus widespread across Shetland.

Clusters are generally being seen among households or families/gatherings.

“It’s tended to be within families or friends groupings rather than at any particular event or premises,” Dr Laidlaw said.

“Geographically I think it’s just spread across most of Shetland.”

With schools returning today (Thursday) there will inevitably be an impact, Dr Laidlaw said, such as teaching staff or children possibly being off.

She said at the moment there are hundreds of people in Shetland in isolation due to either testing positive for Covid or being contact traced.

But from today if a triple vaccinated person is traced as a contact, they will now have to take a lateral flow test each day for week instead of isolating and waiting on a PCR result – only if their LFTs are negative.

The minimum time for someone who tests positive has also reduced from 10 days to a week, but that is only if the person returns two negative lateral flows on day six and seven and does not have a fever.

More information on the new changes, which also includes people no longer requiring a PCR test if they have a positive lateral flow, can be found on the Scottish Government website.

Dr Laidlaw stressed that the guidance around people needing to isolate and having a PCR test if they have Covid symptoms has not changed.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.