Shetland’s latest Covid-19 outbreak is within days of being declared over, according to health chief Michael Dickson.
He said that while there had been an “enormous” increase in cases since December, the end was in sight.
“We are now starting to see those really joyful days when there are no cases,” he said during a Facebook broadcast last night (Wednesday).
“Over the next few days, if we keep on as we’re doing, I’m very hopeful that we will be able to declare this outbreak over – it’s concluded.”
Between mid-December and Wednesday of this week, Shetland recorded 134 new cases – almost twice the total figure for the period prior to December.
Although the figures for the early stages of the pandemic are artificially low, due to a lack of widespread testing, Mr Dickson acknowledged the recent spike had been concerning.
He said it could have been even worse if not for the timing.
With the outbreak hitting just before Christmas, Mr Dickson said it caused folk to think twice about mixing over the festive period.
“Certainly there were no Hogmanay and New Year activities, which is really important, because it’s helped keep us safe,” he added.
Mr Dickson, who is chief executive of NHS Shetland and Orkney, said earlier this month that he was “cautiously optimistic” that the health board was on top of the virus.
In the days that followed, however, Shetland’s cases continued to rise steeply.
But with the figures now showing a sustained decline, Mr Dickson said he hoped the outbreak could soon be declared over.
During the week leading up to his broadcast on Wednesday, seven new cases had been reported, reflecting the lowest weekly average since the recent outbreak began.
“All indications are very much that we are at the tail end of the outbreak and hopefully we will shortly be able to declare it over,” he said.
Despite the upbeat outlook, Mr Dickson stressed the importance of sticking to the rules.
“We can’t all go back to our normal lives,” he said.
“We are still in a really difficult place.
“But fundamentally, we have that opportunity to get back to where we eliminate the virus from our shores – we have the ability to drive it out.”