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After taking 21 months to reach 1,000 Covid cases, stark warning as Orkney’s toll rises from 2,000 to 3,000 in two weeks

The Balfour hospital in Kirkwall.
The Balfour hospital in Kirkwall.

The director of public health with NHS Orkney has given a stark picture of the rise in Covid-19 cases the county is seeing.

Presenting an update to the health authority’s board, Dr Louise Wilson said she wanted to “make it really come home that our picture is different” than the national one.

She said: “From March 2020 it took us 21 months to reach our first thousand Covid cases.

“It took us two months for us to go from one thousand to two thousand cases. It has taken us two weeks to go from two thousand to three thousand cases.”

1,000 cases recorded in just two weeks

“That’s 21 months. Two months. Two weeks.”

“That really starkly demonstrates the rise we’re seeing and the impact that will be having across our services.”

Her report states that Omicron and Delta have taken their toll, with cases being seen across all ages and have affected services.

Government data shows, in the last week alone, 402 people in Orkney confirmed a positive test result. Sixty-one people confirmed a positive lateral flow or PCR test on February 23.

Recent weekly rates show Orkney counting more positive tests than the rest of Scotland apart from Shetland.

Covid cases in Orkney lag behind picture seen by mainland Scotland health boards

A joint plea was issued from Orkney council and NHS Orkney for the public to increase their efforts to limit the spread of the virus.

Earlier this month, Dr Wilson said the rising numbers are likely due to the Omicron variant, increasing travel, and people meeting up indoors due to poor weather.

She also said the Orkney public has been “extremely diligent” in their use of lateral flow tests.

Michael Dickson, NHS Orkney interim Chief Executive.

Hospitalisations remain low, although Dr Wilson said these usually lag behind case numbers.

Orkney’s uptake rate for covid vaccinations is looking healthy, with over 84% of those over 18-years-old having had their third booster jab.

However, Dr Wilson’s key message is that Orkney is behind mainland health boards, in terms of their peak in cases.

‘We’re not out of this. The pandemic is not over’

During the meeting, Michael Dickson, the interim chief executive of the Orkney and Shetland health boards said services have been affected by the rise in cases.

However, he added that “fantastic work” is going on to keep them up and running,

He said: “It’s been a really challenging period of time. We’re not out of this. The pandemic is not over by a long stretch.

“Orkney is tracking about four weeks behind mainland Scotland. Services won’t immediately snap back to where they were. But the clinical pressure on services has been less than it could have been.

“If we had seen those figures at the beginning of the pandemic, when we didn’t have anti-virals and were limited in our testing, the picture would have been incredibly stark.”

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