Health chief’s plea for community’s help in tackling rise in Covid-19

Shetland’s health chief has pleaded for the community to make a “collective effort” to tackle the significant increase in Covid-19 cases the isles have seen in recent weeks.

Michael Dickson said it was “imperative” everyone sticks to the rules to eliminate the virus.

His comments were made after Shetland recorded its first two deaths from Covid-19 since November.

According to Public Health Scotland’s weekly publication, the deaths were recorded on Sunday, bringing the total number of people who have lost their lives to the virus across the isles to 10.

The past week has also seen three Shetland patients airlifted to hospital as case numbers continue to climb.

In the week up until Wednesday, 22 new cases were recorded, bringing the total since the recent outbreak in mid-December to 108.

Last week, Mr Dickson told the newspaper he was “cautiously optimistic” the isles were ahead of the virus.

But although new case numbers have fallen since the peak of the outbreak, around Christmas and New Year, the virus is continuing to spread.

Mr Dickson said in a widely-shared Facebook post that while most of the new cases were related to the North Mainland outbreak, health workers were also seeing cases with no obvious route of infection.

“This means there continues to be transmission within the community with no or few symptoms,” he said.

“It is therefore imperative that we do all that we can to stick to the rules to eliminate the virus from Shetland.

“There are things we can all do to achieve this such as avoiding crowded places and minimising contact with other households.”

Mr Dickson also highlighted the government’s recent calls to ensure that everyone who can work from home does so.

“This is especially important now,” he said.

“If you have to go into a workplace, please remember the importance of wearing masks correctly, socially distancing and effective hand hygiene at all times.

“Please also be mindful of those working in public facing roles, they need us to comply with the rules to protect them.

“These measures will reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19 to ensure you, your family and the community remain safe.

“We need to aim to eliminate the virus from Shetland because the alternative is we keep on having cases and risk experiencing another outbreak.”

Mr Dickson also urged people to stay alert to Covid-19 symptoms and to get tested even if it seems like only a cold.

Shetland’s public health team has reported that people with mild symptoms have gone on to develop the more common Covid symptoms a few days later.

Consultant in public health Susan Laidlaw appealed for people to book a test as soon as possible.

Dr Laidlaw also urged people to avoid unnecessary contact with people outside their household or extended household.

Mr Dickson said the health board’s top priority was the rollout of the vaccine but cautioned it would take time.

“We are putting in plans to rollout the vaccine as quickly as possible and currently our priority is the most vulnerable groups in our community,” he added.


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