Call is made for isles to be coronavirus case study

A councillor is calling on Shetland to be a case study in the fight against coronavirus.

South Mainland member George Smith believes a case should be made to the Scottish government for mass testing and contact tracing of the isles population.

He believes using Shetland as a test-bed could, in the short term, help both UK and Scottish administrations form an “exit strategy” from the current lockdown arrangements.

But he still sees a vaccine as necessary in the longer term.

Writing on his councillors Facebook page he states: “This is my personal view and not necessarily the view of Shetland Islands Council.

“I think it is obvious that the UK government (and the Scottish government) are struggling with an exit strategy from the lockdown arrangements.

“The key to relaxing some of the measures will in the short term be testing of the population. Ultimately it will be a vaccine and/or drugs to treat patients.

“I think Shetland is well placed to be a case study for mass testing. Testing facilities are soon to be available here in Lerwick. We should be putting forward a case to the Scottish government that there should be mass testing of the population of Shetland and contact tracing.

“This may require additional resources to be deployed here but it would give the government excellent information about the extent of the spread of the virus including how many people have had it but shown little or no symptoms.”

Mr Smith said this information could then inform how to ease the current restrictions.

“The advantage of this being done in a place like Shetland is that we are an island community and able to control to a large extent who comes into the islands and also with a population of 23,000 it is sufficiently large for a decent sample but not too large to be unmanageable resource-wise.

“I really think the council and NHS Shetland and our MSP should be impressing on the Scottish government and Public Health Scotland the merits of this.”


Add Your Comment
  • Deborah Briggs

    • April 13th, 2020 15:51

    Thanks for this excellent suggestion. It makes perfect sense, for obvious reasons. In order to be successful, it would be absolutely essential for adequate testing to be implemented and made available here in Shetland and would require sufficient medical personnel to be on hand to supervise the roll out across Shetland.

  • Helen Braynis

    • April 13th, 2020 17:27

    As inter-island ferries are essential travel only, a potential exit strategy would be for the smaller isles to come out of lockdown earlier.


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