An NHS board has warned people to be vigilant as it records 1000 coronavirus cases in a week with 60 schools experiencing outbreaks.
The surge in numbers represents almost 10% of NHS Highland’s total case count for the whole Covid pandemic.
The health board said the rise in people catching the virus is part of the impact of schools returning from summer holidays last week.
From August 16 to August 22, NHS Highland recorded more than 1000 new cases with transmission in the community being “sustained” as it spreads “very rapidly”.
“Covid-19 is spreading very rapidly and the impact on families, local schools and businesses remains significant.”Dr Jenny Wares, NHS Highland
Dr Jenny Wares, consultant in Public Health Medicine (Health Protection), said if there is evidence of Covid-19 transmission within classrooms, PCR testing and self-isolation may be advised to try and control outbreaks.
Since moving beyond level zero, the Scottish Government guidance for the management of Covid-19 cases in schools and childcare settings has changed with close contacts in these settings no longer routinely asked to isolate.
Dr Wares said: “There is no single situation driving the numbers up and we are experiencing sustained community transmission.
“Covid-19 is spreading very rapidly and the impact on families, local schools and businesses remains significant.
“Whilst Covid-19 is circulating at such high levels, we would advise you try to minimise your contact with others as much as possible to limit further spread within our communities.
“It is so important that we remain vigilant for symptoms.”
Fort William Football Club has also suffered a Covid-19 outbreak with Wednesday night’s match against Nairn County cancelled due to positive cases.
A spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that we are unable to fulfil the fixture, however health and safety must be our main priority.
“We wish the people affected a safe recovery.”
Public health expert Professor Linda Bauld warned schools could be forced to close again amid a sharp rise in cases as kids go back to class.
Scotland’s national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch has said he and other public health advisers are “concerned” by a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases.
The Scottish Government wants to avoid closing schools in response to rising coronavirus cases “at all possible costs”, deputy first minister John Swinney has said.
An entire class of primary school children in Glasgow have been told to self-isolate following a positive case of coronavirus.
A primary school in Dumfries and Galloway has been forced to close following an outbreak of coronavirus.
Anyone that becomes unwell is urged to isolate immediately and book a PCR test.
Free testing is also available for people who do not have symptoms.
NHS Highland said around one in three people do not show symptoms, so can spread the virus to others without knowing.
Dr Wares said: “Since moving beyond level zero the Scottish Government guidance for the management of Covid-19 cases in schools and childcare settings has changed with close contacts in these settings not routinely asked to isolate.
“This change is being closely monitored for the first few weeks of pupils returning to the classroom.”
Nicky Grant, executive chief officer for education and learning in Highland, said: “The Highland Council continues to work in partnership with NHS Highland’s Health Protection to manage a number of Covid-19 outbreaks in school settings.
“It is vital that parents/carers and pupils take protective measures set out for schools and follow the advice from the Health Protection Team on receiving any letters about local cases.
“Online learning or home learning material will be available for those who are isolating but, otherwise, remain well.”