An investigation into a cluster of Covid cases in Grantown is no cause for anxiety, according to a health boss.
NHS Highland is making more testing available with the cluster having been identified as a variant under investigation (VUI).
The number of variant cases is small – fewer than 10 – and it is not connected to previous cases in Grantown or to the outbreak in Moray.
No new cases have been identified and contact tracing has been carried out with all positive cases and their close contacts advised to isolate.
Asymptomatic testing available
A mobile testing unit will be available at Burnfield Avenue car park from Wednesday for people whether they have symptoms or not.
Dr Tim Allison, NHS Highland’s director of public health and policy, said: “We don’t have any new cases in Grantown, there is no outbreak. We just want to confirm that things are clear really.
“There is no cause for anxiety, it’s purely a precautionary measure.
“Variants do arise and when they do we want to keep track of them and make sure there is no spread. The Grantown cases were some time ago and contact tracing is finished now.”
Dr Allison would not go into details about the variant, other than it is different from the normal strains of Covid.
He said: “Variants will arise regularly and we need to keep a handle on them.”
He said there is no connection between the Grantown cluster and the cases in Moray which currently has the highest infection rate in Scotland.
He added: “I’m not aware of any links between Grantown and Moray. There can be links with Covid from neighbouring areas, but we are not doing this because of any links with Moray.”
He said there is no more concern regarding easing of restrictions announced by the First Minister.
“We all need to be cautious and not assume that Covid has gone away, which is why there is additional testing going on generally.
“There needs to be a level of caution with the restrictions relaxing. It’s good news they are relaxing and numbers are going down. But if you look next door in Moray you can see there is always the potential for cases to rise.”
In September, more than 30 Covid cases were confirmed in a previous cluster in Grantown, with most linked to an abattoir in the town.