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Covid-19 impact being felt in Sutherland and the Highlands but peak is yet to come

By Gavin Musgrove

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NHS Highland Medical Director Dr Boyd Peters.
NHS Highland Medical Director Dr Boyd Peters.

The Highlands has registered its highest ever daily total of Covid cases and it was more than double the previous high.

There were a total of 883 new cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday, NHS Highland bosses have revealed.

The figure is four times the daily average seen last week and is the highest number of new cases in one day in the region.

An NHS Highland spokeswoman said: "From 22-28 December we had 2889 new cases, almost double what we saw the previous week.

"Since Boxing Day we have seen 1720 new cases which is higher than what we have been used to seeing on a weekly basis.

"Across Scotland nearly 16,000 new cases were identified on the same day.

"Covid-19 has not gone away and it is having a significant impact on our communities and our services.

"In NHS Highland we have seen wards having to close due to positive cases amongst patients and staff, and almost half our care homes are currently closed due to cases.

"Omicron is extremely infectious and this fourth wave is by far the biggest one so far."

Dr Boyd Peters, Medical Director for NHS Highland, said feedback from the Contact Tracers reveals that social gatherings and travel are having the biggest impact on case numbers in the region.

He said: "We have already seen an increase in the area which we believe is linked to people travelling for Christmas and we are expecting the same to happen as people travel and meet up for New Year.

“The threat and impact of Covid remains a significant concern as modelling tells us a big increase in community infections now will cause serious issues in late January, both for individual patients and for the staffing of services.

"Our health and care system is fragile, the loss of staff to this variant through testing positive or the need to isolate has a huge impact on our ability to deliver the services needed across our patch and this is already a challenge.

“We recognise the desire for people to celebrate with family and friends at this time of year but we are appealing for caution and care during the New Year celebrations.”

Covid-19 official advice

• Limit your contact with those outside your household and follow the Scottish Government guidelines on limiting inside contact with three households.

• Make sure you are fully vaccinated – details of vaccination clinics are available on the NHS Highland website. Vaccination is the single biggest form of protection against severe infection.

• Regular self-testing using Lateral Flow Devices for those without symptoms, particularly if you are meeting up with people or have spent time with more people that you normally would. Details on where you can get LFD tests are available on NHS Inform.

• If you have symptoms, please isolate immediately and book a PCR test.

• Follow the guidance – wash your hands, maintain your distance, limit your contacts, test regularly, book a PCR and isolate if you have symptoms, and please get vaccinated when asked to.

• Remain vigilant for symptoms. The typical symptoms are a new continuous cough, a high temperature or fever and a loss of, or change in, normal taste or smell. However, people with Covid-19 can present with a wide range of symptoms including headache, sore muscles and joints, tiredness, sore throat, cold-like symptoms and diarrhoea and vomiting. Anyone that becomes unwell should isolate immediately and seek a PCR test.

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