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‘Primary risk passed’ as Orkney successfully contains COVID-19 cluster

Michael Dickson, NHS Orkney interim chief executive.

The “primary risk” of widespread COVID-19 infection as a result of the Orkney coronavirus cluster has passed.

This is according to NHS Orkney’s interim chief executive, Michael Dickson, who briefed the media, this Monday afternoon.

Mr Dickson, who said that a total of 13 test-positive cases had been linked to the cluster to date, said he was “fairly confident” that virus had been successfully contained here.

In the wake of rising case numbers, last week, NHS Orkney called on anyone who had been in a Kirkwall pub during the previous week to come forward for testing. As a result, over 1,500 Orkney folk have received a PCR COVID-19 test during the past few days. A total of 68 of these came from a mobile testing unit, which was dispatched to Kirkwall Grammar School over the weekend.

While the majority of these tests have now been returned, the organisation is awaiting the results of 24 symptomatic contacts which could see numbers rise over the next few days.

The success of this operation to subdue the COVID-19 cluster has been pinned down to Orkney’s high uptake rate for the coronavirus vaccine.

“What we are fairly confident in is that the primary risk has passed,” Mr Dickson said.

“That means the risk of asymptomatic community spread off the back of this cluster has been mitigated.

“The primary reason for that has been the Orkney’s high uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

As such, the health authority is keen to push vaccination levels even further, with the announcement of two walk-in clinics, starting later this week.

These events, which will take place at the Kirkwall Vaccination Centre on Thursday, July 1 and Tuesday, July 6, are aimed specifically at over 18s who have yet to receive their first vaccine dose. No appointment will be needed.

Mr Dickson added that he was “incredibly proud” of the community for its response to the situation.

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you must self-isolate immediately and book a test. This can be done by phoning 01856 888211.