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Prince William calls NHS staff on Barra to praise efforts during Covid outbreak

The Duke of Cambridge, during a visit to The Royal Marsden in Sutton to meet staff. PA Photo.
The Duke of Cambridge, during a visit to The Royal Marsden in Sutton to meet staff. PA Photo.

The Duke of Cambridge has called health workers on a small Outer Hebridean island to thank them for their efforts in dealing with a recent Covid outbreak.

Prince William spoke to charge nurse Frances MacNeil from St Brendan’s Hospital, Castlebay, on Barra yesterday.

Ms MacNeil was among a number of health professionals the prince called to thank for their work and find out how the situation was locally.

The prince talked to Ms MacNeil about her role as a Covid vaccinator, which she describes as “one of the most rewarding jobs I have carried out”.

Ms MacNeil yesterday said that the conversation with the Duke of Cambridge was “very relaxed” and she really enjoyed speaking with him.

She said: “Prince William was very knowledgeable about the vaccination programme and the geography of the islands.

“He asked about the logistics of getting the vaccine to the islands and how we were managing. We spoke a little about the challenges of unpredictable weather and reaching people in their own homes.

“He commented that of course so many of them had been unable to leave their homes during the past year because of the pandemic.”

She added: “I did mention to him that his grandmother, The Queen, knew Barra and Vatersay well as she visited on several occasions with her young family on the Royal yacht Britannia.”

William’s other grandmother, Frances Shand Kydd, who lived at Seil near Oban, also knew the islands well and was also a regular visitor.

Before the call ended, Prince William expressed his sincere thanks to NHS Western Isles staff and wished all staff well.

Last month, Barra was hit by a Covid cluster that reached 54 cases and led to at least eight people being flown to hospital – and more than 160 of the 1,200 population self-isolating.

There have been no new reported cases for several days now as hopes rise the cluster is under control.

Meanwhile a Covid-19 outbreak on the Isle of Lewis has reached 81 cases after two more people received positive results on Thursday.

The majority of infections are on Lewis, in different locations.

Three cases on North Uist plus one in Benbecula have been traced to the outbreak which emerged over three weeks ago.

Until today a smaller cluster consisting of five people on Lewis was considered separate to the outbreak but a link between the two has now been confirmed.

Some of the people affected have recovered but a handful of new infections continue to appear.

Gordon Jamieson, health board chief executive, said both new cases are household contacts of existing cases.

He added: “We are now confident that all cases on Lewis are linked.”

People “coughing and sneezing” has emerged as one of the main ways the virus is spreading, highlighted Mr Jamieson.

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