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breaking news

47 self-isolating in Stromness Academy-linked COVID-19 cluster

NHS Orkney Public Health and Orkney Islands Council have said they are working closely, this Wednesday evening, to contain a COVID-19 cluster in the West Mainland, which involves several school children.

As in all situations like this, the school that has been impacted, Stromness Academy, has sent out “warn and inform letters” to parents and staff advising them on the situation.

The school remains open, however, the nine individuals who have been identified as PCR test-positive up to Wednesday afternoon are isolating, and PCR testing of contacts is underway.

So far 47 people are self-isolating because they are contacts of the COVID-positive cases.

In a statement released this evening, NHS Orkney public health consultant Sara Lewis said the cluster was inevitable, given the easing of restrictions.

“Situations like this are happening across the country and we are working to contain the situation,” she said.

“What we need now is for the community to work with us by watching for symptoms, doing their lateral flow tests and, for those who haven’t been vaccinated, to come forward and get their jab.”

School staff and secondary students are being asked to continue carrying out their twice-weekly lateral flow tests and registering their results. These tests are available from schools, or can be collected at Boots the Chemist, Sutherlands in Stromness and Kirkwall and can be ordered online.

Anyone who has a positive lateral flow test must book a PCR test through the Covid Assessment Centre and isolate until they receive their result.

Should you have symptoms including a new cough, temperature and loss of taste and smell you and your family should immediately self-isolate and book a PCR test by contacting the Covid Assessment Centre on 01856888211.

The CAC opens at 7.45am and closes at 6pm (Mon-Fri). After a positive LFT you must isolate until your PCR test confirms you are negative. If your PCR is positive there will be isolation protocols that you will have to follow the NHS Orkney team will help folk every step of the way.

The council’s executive director of education, leisure and housing, James Wylie, added: “Following discussions with Public Health, and following the appropriate guidelines, the school will remain open, and staff will continue to provide support for pupils attending at school and for those who are self-isolating.

“Pupils having to self-isolate for ten days will be encouraged to continue with appropriate work at home relevant to their current studies. Public Health and Education Services have established a pattern of daily meetings to ensure that the situation is reviewed in real time.

“We would like to reassure everyone that we are taking all the steps we can to ensure the safety of pupils and staff while in the school. If anyone is experiencing any symptoms, then they must stay at home and follow NHS guidance.

“As schools returned after the summer holidays, with folk heading off and visitors coming to Orkney, it was anticipated there would be a rise in the number of cases. Thankfully, it remains relatively low in Orkney but, as has been shown, clusters such as these can occur at any time.

“We would stress that it is vital for secondary pupils and all staff to continue participating in the twice-weekly testing, to log the results online and for everyone else in the community to stick to the guidance of wearing face coverings when inside, keeping the required distance from others and to maintain handwashing and sanitising.”