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NHSO in ‘strong position’ as it combats Balfour ward cases

*UPDATE* As of Thursday afternoon, NHS Orkney can confirm there have been no new cases linked to Inpatients Two in the last 24 hours. Like yesterday no individuals are giving concern from a COVID-19 infection perspective, although some have serious underlying medical conditions which require them to be in hospital.

One of The Balfour’s two inpatients wards is to remain closed to admissions for at least another two weeks, after the discovery of a further COVID-19 case.

NHS Orkney has said it is unable to say how many patients and staff from Inpatients Two have tested positive for the virus, due to confidentiality reasons.

In a briefing this Wednesday evening, the health authorities finance director Mark Doyle filled in for interim chief executive Michael Dickson, giving an update alongside director of acute services Kim Wilson.

Mr Doyle said that none of the individuals affected were giving NHS Orkney any cause for concern, and confirmed that patients had been discharged to self-isolate at home, where possible, while others have been moved to the hospital’s COVID-19 ward.

He confirmed that, today, the clock had restarted in terms of keeping the ward closed to admissions, due to at least one new case being linked to Inpatients Two during the past 24 hours.

Ms Wilson explained the the small number of cases which have been identified within The Balfour are confined to those linked with Inpatients Two, and that these had been discovered as a result of routine testing. As well as staff undertaking twice weekly lateral flow tests, every patient who enters The Balfour is tested for COVID-19 on admission, and then again on day five of their stay.

Mr Doyle appealed to the wider Orkney community to remain ‘vigilant’ when it comes to COVID-19 precautions.

He said: “As Orkney starts to open up, we are starting to see more COVID-19 cases presenting themselves.

“Currently, there are a small number of individuals within the hospital who have tested positive for COVID-19.

“No individuals are giving cause for concern at this stage, and as you’re aware the hospital has well-established patient pathways. No patient or member of staff is being put at risk.

“As a precautionary measure, at this stage, the ward remains closed. Relatives of any patients on the ward who are allowed visited will be contacted by ward staff.

“As a health organisation, NHS Orkney is in a strong position to support the staff, the patients in this regard. We have excellent access to testing and well-observed infection control measures.

“I would just urge that the public health messages are re-iterated. Everybody is asked to adhere to good respiratory and hand hygiene. Avoid crowded placed and follow the Scottish Government’s guidance.”

NHS Orkney has issued a reminder that anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 must seek a test, and self-isolate. You can book a PCR test by phoning the COVID-19 Assessment Centre on 01856 888211.