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NHS Orkney disputes COVID case claims

The Balfour Hospital, Kirkwall.

NHS Orkney has disputed claims made on BBC Radio Two, that Orkney may have some 200-300 cases of coronavirus.

This estimate of figures was broadcast on the station’s Jeremy Vine Show on Thursday, by a man claiming to be an Orkney GP.

The health board maintains its position that there are seven confirmed cases in Orkney, and that it will not be releasing figures on those tested or presenting with symptoms. Their statement says that by reporting the claims made on BBC Radio 2, The Orcadian has undermined their open and honest approach to releasing information to the public.

Responding, a statement from NHS Orkney said: “The press release states there are between 200 – 300 COVID-19 cases on Orkney. The Health Board would like to confirm that to date there have been seven confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Orkney.”

Marthinus Roos, medical director added: “We all suspect that COVID-19 is in the community, however if we did have this number of cases, we would have seen many admissions to hospital for COVID-19 related issues. To date we have not seen this and therefore would dispute these claims.”

Mr Roos added: “NHS Orkney is very concerned about the inaccuracies reported, which undermines the open and honest dialogue we have been working hard on with the public in Orkney. The health board would always welcome a dialogue with our local media to clarify facts before publications are released.”

The Orcadian’s editor, Leah Seator said: “Our story yesterday reported the fact that a man claiming to be a local doctor had presented these numbers to the nation on live radio.
“We did not seek a response from the health board, because it is a fact that this happened.

“We have made several attempts to retrieve figures that will in some way put the number of confirmed tests here into context. Without knowing how many have been tested locally, that figure of seven means absolutely nothing in terms of trying to create a true picture of the scale of coronavirus in Orkney.

“It is good news that Orkney has such a small number of confirmed cases — but releasing this figure alone may create a false sense of security. We believe it is in the public interest to hear more on how many have been tested and how many have presented with symptoms.”