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Coronavirus — No confirmed Orkney cases as UK figure approaches 800

The Orkney public has voiced fears that COVID-19 might enter Orkney by cruise ship, ahead of the arrival of The Magellan tomorrow, Saturday.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 coronavirus in the UK have risen to 798, according to a government announcement today, Friday. Yesterday’s figure was 590.

There are now 85 confirmed cases in Scotland. Orkney is one of only four Scottish NHS board regions which have yet to return a positive test for the virus.

Yesterday, the UK officially moved into the “delay” phase of the coronavirus action plan, bringing in “social distancing” measures such as the postponement of large public events.

Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon has recommended that all gatherings of over 500 people be postpones or cancelled, as of Monday, March 27, in a bid to prevent the spread of the disease.

Orkney Youth Development Group has announced the suspension of its activities for the time being, in line with football associations nationwide.

The scheduled arrival of a cruise ship in Kirkwall has prompted calls for this type of activity to be suspended. Some members of the Orkney public are concerned that the arrival of the Magellan tomorrow, Saturday, could heighten the risk of the virus entering Orkney. The Magellan, which can accommodate up to 1,250 passengers, is making its way to the county from Shetland, which has six confirmed cases of the illness.

In response to concerns, Orkney Islands Council previously stated that it has had port health procedures in place for many years for dealing with cases of infection aboard ships of all kinds.

The councils said that all cruise ships have been asked to provide a Medical Declaration of Health before arriving in Orkney, whether or not they have any illness on board.

If there was a suspected case of COVID-19 aboard a ship, the council’s port health and NHS Orkney’s public health teams would work in conjunction with Health Protection Scotland and the Scottish Government, to decide on the best course of action to take.