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Praise for NHS heroes who gave up Christmas holidays as Shetland outbreak declared over

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Health staff have been praised for their efforts in tackling Shetland’s Covid outbreak as health bosses declared it officially over.

At today’s board meeting, NHS Shetland confirmed there have been no infections linked to the Christmas cluster on the north mainland in the past two weeks.

A total of 133 Covid cases were recorded between December 19 and January 23, with more than 300 people having to self-isolate to halt the spread of the virus.

Elizabeth Robinson, public health and planning principal at NHS Shetland, praised the community for all of their hard work and commitment to getting the virus under control.

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Ms Robinson said: “After two weeks of having no cases related to the outbreak, we can formally declare it to be over.

“Everybody – from community nurses and GP practices to carers and the public health team – has been so committed and gave up their holidays and so much of their time to get everything under control.

“The whole of Christmas all through the month of January was incredibly busy and an incredibly anxious and worrying time for the community in Shetland.

“Although we’ve been very lucky that most of our cases didn’t have severe symptoms to require hospitalisation, having even one Covid patient puts enormous pressure on the system, especially in a small hospital like ours.

“Everybody has been absolutely on the go non-stop from December 19 onwards, and it’s such a relief to open the spreadsheet in the morning and see that huge zero that says no new cases.

“It has really shown the community at its best.”

Gilbert Bain Hospital in Lerwick, Shetland.

Covid-19 in the Shetland Islands

According to statistics, this is the largest outbreak to be recorded on the islands since the start of the pandemic in March last year.

For several weeks people were urged not to use inter-island ferries and libraries remained closed as health officials were trying to accelerate the test and trace programme and contain the virus.

Figures presented at the meeting also showed a massive increase in demand for NHS 24 services, which received more than 80 calls at the peak of the community outbreak.

Currently, there are no new Covid cases, deaths or people being treated for the virus in hospital reported by NHS Shetland.

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