Eight new Covid cases have been recorded in the Western Isles as Barra and Vatersay moved into Level 4 restrictions following an outbreak.
There were five new cases on Barra, bringing the total on the island, with a population of just over 1,000, to 45.
A new cluster of three cases was also discovered on South Uist.
The outbreak on Benbecula remained at five, with a spokeswoman confirming “the individuals who have tested positive are not permanent residents”, adding: “There are also no close contacts for these individuals.”
NHS Western Isles chief executive Gordon Jamieson said: “The message for Barra and Vatersay is please stay at home, protect your local health and social care services, save lives.”
Vaccine rollout well under way
The latest figures came as the health authority moved into ‘Wave 2’ of its mass vaccination programme, with the first over 75s now being invited to attend a vaccination appointment.
The spokeswoman said: “The rollout of Covid-19 vaccine in the Western Isles is well underway, with those whose lives are most at risk from the virus being prioritised in the first phase of the vaccination programme.
“In the Western Isles, vaccinations have been delivered in older adult care homes (residents and staff), and across NHS frontline staff groups.
“The programme is continuing across the Western Isles for those aged over 80, and we are asking individuals in this age group to contact us if they have not yet been vaccinated. Those aged over 80 who are housebound are being contacted individually.
“For those aged over 75, NHS Western Isles will start contacting individuals within that priority group shortly. If you are within the over-75 priority group, please do not contact us for an appointment; we will be contacting you.
New cases on Shetland
In Shetland, another three new cases were confirmed on top of five earlier in the week, bringing the cumulative total since the pandemic began to just over 200.
While the cases were located across Shetland, there are now a number recorded in Yell.
Last week two deaths of patients with confirmed Covid were included in government statistics.
NHS Shetland’s consultant in public health Dr Susan Laidlaw said although numbers have significantly reduced, an average of three new cases a day were still being identified. This meant that Covid-19 was still circulating in the community.
She said: “It is really important to keep taking precautions to reduce spread in the coming months while we are all waiting to be protected by the vaccine.
“While we understand it is difficult not to give someone you love a hug or a kiss, you are placing each other at risk if one of you unknowingly has the virus.
“It is especially important to protect the older and more vulnerable members of our community.
“We have seen people being admitted to hospital and flown to the mainland and sadly people have died over the past month.
“The vaccination is being rolled out and once we know that is effective in the population then we will see life starting to get back to normal.”
Around 50 people a day have been attending a temporary Covid testing unit in Lerwick, with four positive tests returned so far.
The unit was brought in to provide additional testing capacity in Shetland following a large outbreak of cases which had originated in the north mainland before Christmas.
Professor Shantini Paranjothy, a consultant in public health currently supporting NHS Shetland, said the unit – which closes today – has proved a success.
The Scottish Government testing unit, staffed by around 10 ambulance service personnel, opened on Friday morning and by Monday nearly 200 folk had come through.
Prof Paranjothy said it was a “very slick service” which operates across Scotland, going where there is a need.
It shows there were 41 new cases in August, 257 in September, 425 the following month, 340 in November, another 953 in December, with 1,052 cases recorded in just the first 15 days of January.