Employees at an Inverness Covid testing centre are isolating after an outbreak of the virus swept through the staff.
Health and safety investigators are now probing claims that staff were told to continue working despite receiving Test and Protect notifications.
A cluster of six virus cases has been confirmed at the site, based in the car park of the Highland Council headquarters on Glenurquhart Road, and one of the two teams there are now self-isolating in case they have come into contact with a positive case.
It has been claimed that Test and Protect warnings and an increasing number of positive cases were ignored by management after some staff voiced concerns over exposure to the virus on Friday.
The site, which opened in October, is operated by facilities management firm Mitie on behalf of the UK Government.
It has now been shut down pending an audit by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Highland MSP Rhoda Grant said there was “no excuse” for senior staff to ignore the concerns of workers and called for a “full investigation” into the outbreak.
She added that the situation raised questions about the use of private contractors in health services.
Ms Grant said: “Regardless of what workplace it is, they need to abide by the rules and make sure people self-isolate if they have symptoms or if they have been in close contact with anyone with symptoms.
“The fact that it is a Covid-19 testing centre is all the more reason to be more vigilant and there is really no excuse for this having happened – they can’t cite ignorance as a reason and it is essential that this full investigation is carried out.”
It is understood Mitie took the decision to close the Inverness test centre on Saturday evening following the identification of a number of positive cases.
HSE it is “aware of a number of cases being reported at the location” and confirmed it is liaising with Highland Council on the matter.
A spokeswoman for Mitie said: “Following a small number of employees testing positive for Covid-19, the decision was made to close the test centre in line with health and safety procedures.
“Prior to this closure, Test and Trace guidance was followed and the site was deep cleaned.
“The safety of our employees and members of the public is our utmost priority.
“Therefore, as a precaution, all colleagues in this team are now self-isolating, and every employee on site is receiving additional training on PPE, social distancing and Test and Trace procedure.”
The UK Government Department of Health and Social Care refused to comment on the issue, but pointed out that all safety measures were in place at the site.