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Bairns’ bravery applauded as West Mainland combats COVID cluster

Orkney’s public health team has praised the bravery of school bairns who have undertaken COVID-19 tests in efforts to contain a West Mainland cluster.

As of Thursday lunchtime there were 13 positive PCR test results and a further six positive lateral flow results within the cluster, which has links with Stromness Academy.

 NHS Orkney consultant in public health, Sara Lewis, said her team was working with education colleagues to contain the spread of the virus in our community.

“I would like to thank the teachers, parents and children involved for working with us at a difficult time,” she said

”I understand that for a child to have a PCR test is uncomfortable but the young people being tested are all very brave. I would like to thank them for working with our Test and Protect teams, providing lists of their contacts, having the PCR test and also isolating.”

 Parents who are concerned their children might have contracted Covid can complete a self-help guide on NHS Inform that will help them determine if this is the case. This guide is available at: https://www.nhsinform.scot/self-help-guides/self-help-guide-coronavirus-covid-19

Anyone with symptoms or who has a positive LFD test must isolate and ensure a PCR test conducted. Due to the unfolding situation in Stromness, tests done on children and teachers at local schools are being expedited through the Balfour Hospital laboratory. However, while results are awaited, the person being tested and their immediate household, no matter how young, must isolate.

James Wylie, Orkney Islands Council’s executive director of education, leisure and housing said: “We very much appreciate that there is a level of anxiety within the West Mainland community, particularly in relation to the schools, but we would like to reassure you that all mitigations are in place in line with Scottish Government guidance.”

 “It has transpired that a number of the positive lateral flow test results reported to the school were not accurate.

“While I stress that we do understand the level of concern at this time, giving inaccurate information to the schools does not help with the wider picture of an ongoing situation. It is vital we do not make a situation sound more widespread than it actually is so I urge parents and carers to ensure that all lateral flow test results are registered online, whether these are positive or negative. Failure to register a positive test online will result in a delay in securing a PCR test and will slow the process of tracing close contacts.

 “The evidence now suggests that this situation has arisen due to community transmission and our plea to you all is to remain vigilant, to adhere to the guidance in regards to all mitigations which will help curb the spread. Orkney has been very lucky to date with low transmission rates and we all have a role to play in trying to maintain this.

 “Once again, I state the importance of carrying out lateral flow tests twice a week for young people and staff and that results are registered online. I want to thank everyone who is taking the situation in the West Mainland very seriously and playing their part in trying to contain the cluster to a minimum.”

 Mrs Lewis explained that it takes a few days for the virus to incubate when someone was infected and that the community needed to keep going with LFD tests to ensure they were not positive and to watch for symptoms.

“While most of our community is vaccinated, we must remember there are very vulnerable people among us who can become very ill or die if they contract COVID. For this reason, we have to work together to contain any cluster.

“If you develop symptoms or you have a positive LFD test, then you must request a PCR test through the COVID Assessment Centre (01856 888211).”

To request a vaccination call 0300 303 5313.