Western Isles faces 'challenging' situation amid record Covid cases

Health board warns of pressure on staffing levels after 266 people test positive for coronavirus over five-day period.

NHS Western Isles faces ‘challenging’ situation amid record daily Covid cases iStock

The Western Isles has recorded its highest daily number of Covid cases since the start of the pandemic.

The local health board issued an appeal on Wednesday reminding people to follow public health guidance after 76 people tested positive on Tuesday.

NHS Western Isles also said 266 people have tested positive over the past five days, with most of the cases on Lewis.

Gordon Jamieson, the health board’s chief executive, said: “At this point, we have been able to avoid service cancellation or having to postpone procedures/appointments.

“However, staffing in some areas is now proving to be extremely challenging and our staff are going above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that we are able to provide as full a range of services as possible for as long as possible.”

Jamieson said current staffing levels would not be sustainable should cases continue to increase at the current rate.

He added: “Our communities have worked so hard over the past two years to protect each other and we should all be proud of our efforts.

“We must continue to work together to take the measures that we can, and are able to, to minimise the spread or transmission and disruption, to protect both health and the local economy.”   

NHS Western Isles said hospital admissions remained low and that the majority of people who contract the virus are only experiencing mild symptoms.

But it added there was still the risk of serious health problems for some people.

The health board also warned absences due to staff having to self-isolate were having an impact on health and other services.

Dr Dermot Gorman, NHS Western Isles consultant in public health medicine, said: “We would ask that people continue to take the simple, yet important steps that we are all so well aware of to protect our communities and services.   

“We are now also seeing evidence of re-infection in the Western Isles, where some individuals are catching Covid-19 for a second time. Please be mindful of this and stay vigilant.

“Even if you have had Covid-19 before, you can still catch it again, so it’s important that you take the basic steps above to protect yourself and your community.”  

Scotland’s mandatory coronavirus vaccine passport scheme was scrapped last month, with other legal restrictions set to end in March.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said this would happen assuming there were “no significant adverse developments” in the fight against the virus.

However, while the legal requirement to wear masks in some settings will be dropped from March 21, the Scottish Government will still “strongly recommend” people continue to use face coverings.

The First Minister also made clear the Scottish Government would “continue to ask those who test positive for Covid to isolate for the recommended period”.

Isolating after testing positive “with a highly infectious virus, remains one of the most fundamental public health protections that we have available to us”, the First Minister said.

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