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‘Careful’ Barra residents blame escalating outbreak on influx of festive visitors

Christmas and New Year visitors are being blamed for the increase of Covid cases
Christmas and New Year visitors are being blamed for the increase of Covid cases

Some Barra residents are blaming the influx of Christmas and New Year visitors for the current outbreak on the island.

It now has 27 positive cases, with more than 110 close contacts of those infected in isolation. This attributes to a significant proportion of Barra’s 1,047 population.

An incident management team was set up at the weekend to discuss the escalating situation.

Essential businesses are adapting to the situation, but an online list of the status of firms across the island shows that most are closed.

Padula’s Island Stores has posted a list of strict new rules for the shop, saying: “Harsh rules, but this is a very different Barra. Let’s all look after ourselves, stay in and try to protect our island.”

Another resident, who didn’t want to be named, said people were staying in but were disappointed.

“Barra has done so well.

“The virus could have come in different ways. There were many people travelling between Christmas and New Year to the island.

“No thought for all the repercussions on others.”

There are at present two cases on the neighbouring island of Benbecula.

The number of tests carried out so far in the Western Isles is 6,194, with a total of 109 since the start of the pandemic.

NHS Western Isles said it was of vital importance that anyone with symptoms, regardless of how mild, should self isolate immediately and arrange a test.

A spokeswoman said: “Please do not assume that any symptoms are that of a cold or other winter virus – it is absolutely imperative that anyone with symptoms self isolates and books a test to prevent any potential further spread of the virus.

“Be vigilant for all symptoms, in particular loss or change of taste or sense of smell, which has been a common factor in this outbreak.

“Please also be vigilant for any new respiratory symptoms or any new illness and arrange a test if concerned.”

The health board also highlighted the potential risks of using items of high levels of contact such as cash machines.

The spokeswoman said: “We would advise the use of cards where possible.

“Where this is not possible, use hand sanitizer before and after using the cash machine, as well as disinfectant wipes before and after use where possible.

“We would remind individuals to avoid regular trips to the supermarket and keep shopping trips to a minimum and as necessary.

“Shop alone, wear a mask at all times and hand sanitise before and after shopping. Respect other shoppers/shop workers by ensuring you maintain a two metre distance from others at all times.”

Meanwhile three care homes in Ross-shire have 51 infected residents, including some staff members.

In Invergordon, 24 residents at Kintyre House Care Home and 14 at Castle Gardens are now infected.

The town has an escalating situation, with more than 70 cases confirmed and 66 in neighbouring Alness.

In Dingwall there are currently 13 cases among residents at Fodderty care home, with a number of staff self-isolating.

To access testing, contact 01851 601151, e-mail or contact NHS24 on 111.

Leave a message on the answering machine with your details if you do not get a response and your call will be returned.

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