Health officials at NHS Shetland say the coronavirus crisis is “developing very rapidly” following news the number of confirmed cases in the isles has risen to six.
Speaking at a daily press briefing on Thursday afternoon, the health authority’s interim medical director Brian Chittick said the board was looking at implementing a pandemic flu plan.
That comes after the World Health Organization’s labeling of the outbreak a pandemic.
Representatives from the public health team are said to be moving quickly to track and contact a new group of people who they believe may have been exposed to the virus.
“We’ve had four additional cases of Covid-19, which takes us to six,” Mr Chittick said.
“At the moment we’re contact tracing a new set of people from the recent results and we will be getting in contact with people and inviting them in to have testing undertaken.
“It’s also important to say things are developing very rapidly. If you look externally to Shetland, the WHO has announced that Covid-19 is now a pandemic.”
He added there was UK-wide discussion across the UK about “where we are in our containment phase” and whether there is a decision about moving to the next stage, the ‘delay’ phase.
“That has impacted on us as well in the fact we are looking at implementing a pandemic flu plan which we have prepared.”
To slow the progression of the virus NHS Shetland is appealing to anyone not feeling well to remain at home.
For most people the virus will mean they develop an upper respiratory tract infection which NHS Shetland says is unlikely to have any serious impact.
But the authority warns people living in care homes and staying in hospital are “especially vulnerable”.
Anyone feeling unwell is asked to avoid visiting the elderly or people with underlying health problems.
That, says NHS Shetland, is “standard advice” which also applies year round to those suffering from illnesses such as norovirus or flu.
The symptoms of Covid-19 are fever, a cough and shortness of breath.
Anyone experiencing those symptoms are asked to remain at home and self-isolate.