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Public urged to be vigilant following record-breaking case increase

NHS Orkney say that a record-breaking number of COVID-19 positive cases have been reported for the county today – a total of 115 cases in just the past 24 hours.

The health authority has confirmed that hospitalisation rates remain low for those who have tested positive but many in the community are still suffering with the effects of the infectious disease.

Thankfully, our high rate of COVID-19 vaccinations are aiding in the reduced severity of symptoms people are experiencing but nonetheless many are still falling ill.

However, there has been a knock-on effect to many services within the community, including shops having to temporarily close and in-class learning being suspended for many children and youngsters.

Regarding the status of the hospital, many staff are self-isolating due to testing positive or being at home to look after their families who have fallen ill with COVID-19.

Dr Louise Wilson, director of Public Health for NHS Orkney said: “We continue to see a rise in our COVID-19 cases numbers locally. Based on samples which have been analysed, the BA.2 variant of Omicron has now overtaken the BA.1 variant of Omicron both nationally and locally.

“This variant is highly transmissible and once in a household readily spreads to other household members. With the spread through the community, it is not surprising that health services are being impacted.”

Dr Mark Henry, medical director for NHS Orkney said: “Although we are continuing to see small numbers of patients admitted to the Balfour with COVID-19 we are under considerable staffing pressures across all our services.

“Our staff work and live in our community and therefore are exposed to the virus just like everyone else, it is no surprise we are seeing pressures on our systems with daily cases as high as 115. We urge you all to be vigilant with the measures in place and please continue to protect one another.”

As a reminder, the health authority say you can protect yourself, your families, friends, and those around you by ensuring you are fully vaccinated against the virus. If you are due your next dose or yet to start the vaccination process you can call the vaccination centre on 0300 303 5313 to book an appointment and to find out more information.

NHS Orkney are also encouraging folk to continue to wash their hands regularly and use hand sanitiser when out and about. If you’re meeting up indoors with those out with your household, opening doors and windows will ensure good ventilation and less chance of the virus spreading.

They are still urging the community to continue with regular lateral flow testing particularly before meeting up with others, travelling and attending events. All lateral flow results should be recorded and the public are thanked for being so diligent with recording results thus far.

If you develop symptoms and have not yet taken a lateral flow test, a PCR test is still recommended. If you are seeking a PCR test, simply drive to the Testing Centre in Kirkwall where you will be given a self-testing kit to undertake and hand back for processing. If you’d like more information on PCR testing or cannot drive to the centre, please call 0300 303 9545 to book an appointment. The details on when a PCR test is required are detailed on the Scot Gov website https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested/pages/covid-symptoms/.

Finally, if you fall into the clinically extremely vulnerable category and have tested positive for COVID-19, you may be eligible for antiviral medication, more information can be found here https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-covid-19-treatments within this link is also the number you can call to speak to someone here in Orkney. If you had a letter regarding antiviral medication, you should follow the instructions provided.