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NHSO and OIC show solidarity as COVID cases rise


Michael Dickson, NHS Orkney interim chief executive.

In the wake of news that seven Orkney residents have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week, NHS Orkney and Orkney Islands Council have pledged to work together for the good of our community, as we continue to fight the virus.

The joint statement, shared by the two organisations, today, Friday, follows the announcement of proposals by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for a new five-tiered system for lockdown restrictions.

In recent weeks, Orkney Islands Council leader, Councillor James Stockan, and NHS Orkney interim chief executive, Michael Dickson, have shared a difference in opinion over Orkney’s next steps in combatting the virus.

Councillor Stockan has joined fellow island leaders in advocating a more localised system of lockdown, which would offer the potential for relaxing restrictions, given Orkney’s low track record for cases. Mr Dickson, however, has warned that too great a level of relaxation could risk undermining vital public health messages keeping our community safe.

Now, both NHSO and OIC have joined together in encouraging all residents to follow the current lockdown guidance.

The statement, jointly penned by NHSO chairwoman Meghan McEwen and Councillor Stockan reads: “Orkney has shown its strength and resilience in this struggle against COVID-19 by working as a community in the best interests of one and another.

OIC leader James Stockan.

“As public service organisations, NHS Orkney and the Orkney Islands Council, stand side by side in our determination to do what is in the best interests of all the people in our communities. At this difficult time, with rising cases of the virus across the nation, it is right that we acknowledge the skills and insights of our Public Health experts as they support us in overcoming the challenges that come with this health emergency.

“We appreciate that not all communities are being affected by the pandemic in the same way and welcome the principles set out in the Scottish Government’s draft proposals for a tiered system, which means those places with significantly higher numbers of cases would have tighter restrictions than others.

“We are pleased the Scottish Government is committed to engaging with local government as part of its range of measures to identify which tier will be set for each region and which will take into account our own local context

“Whatever tier Orkney is placed in, we encourage our communities to follow the guidelines at all time so we can keep each other safe.

NHSO chairwoman, Meghan McEwen.

“There is no denying this is a very difficult time — our economy has been hit hard, businesses are suffering, jobs are being lost and we are being denied the social and physical contact that are so essential to each and every one of us. For that reason, we are committed to building on our excellent track record of working together but now to do so with even more dedication as we face this pandemic.”

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