High risk Shetland patients who need to travel for treatment on the mainland have been recommended to travel by ferry rather than plane.
NHS Shetland said that while it would try to arrange for remote appointments, where possible, there would be times when travel to Aberdeen may be required for patients.
“If you have to travel and are shielding, or in one of the higher risk groups, we would recommend you travel by ferry where at all possible,” NHS Shetland said in a statement.
“Northlink has introduced measures which include the rotation of cabins in use, deep cleaning of cabins and cabins being left unoccupied for a minimum period of 24 hrs after use.”
Travel to and from islands has been restricted to essential journeys only, which includes patient visits to hospital.
Loganair has increased its number of daily flights between Shetland and Aberdeen from one to two this week, partially to serve an anticipated increase in the number of patients travelling as health services open up.
NorthLink is operating a reduced service. However special arrangements have been put in place for patients that can be requested at the time of booking.
These include: early boarding, later disembarkation and, where possible, ensuring the walkway is kept free of other passengers while doing so.
Contact-free delivery of meals to cabins can also be arranged to ensure patients within these categories can maintain social distancing.
“You still have the choice of travelling by air but it may not be possible to adhere to social distancing while doing so,” NHS Shetland added.
“If you do choose to travel by air please be aware that Sumburgh Airport has introduced a requirement that all people using the airport wear a face covering which will help reduce the risk somewhat.
“If you are in one of the higher risk categories you will be supplied with a mask along with your travel documents.
“We will strive to keep the public informed as services are re-started.”
People with queries or concerns can contact Yvonne Graham, patient travel manager, by email via firstname.lastname@example.org.