Nearly 600 children are being kept off school in the Uists after the number of Covid-19 cases in the area rose to 17 yesterday.
The cluster of cases in South Uist – up from seven on Sunday – had led to all schools being closed for three days as a precaution. Liniclate Sports Centre in Benbecula and some businesses have also shut their doors.
Before this week, the Western Isles had the lowest number of cases in Scotland since the start of the outbreak. But the cluster now means South Uist has a higher per capita rate than Scotland overall, with 896 per 100,000 people compared to the national figure of 509 per 100,000.
NHS Western Isles director of public health Dr Maggie Watts said people affected have been asked to self-isolate for ten days and contacts are being traced and being advised to self-isolate for 14 days.
She stressed contacts should complete self-isolation, even if they subsequently test negative.
She added: “We would like to reassure our local communities and visitors to the island that we are taking all necessary steps to contain the virus but it is vital that everyone in the Western Isles follows the current Scottish Government restrictions and FACTS guidance to limit any spread of the virus.”
Western Isles Council said all schools in Uist have closed as a precautionary measure, until test results give a clear picture. A spokesman said the situation will be reviewed daily.
Cothrom Nursery in South Uist is closed until further notice after staff were identified as close contacts and A’Chridhe Uile Naomh care home also suspended admissions, visiting and discharges.
The Am Politician pub on Eriskay closed on Friday and yesterday said it is remaining shut “for a few more days” to safeguard the community and staff.
Stòras Uibhist, which runs the community-owned South Uist Estate, closed Lochboisdale harbour to visiting leisure vessels and the clubhouse at Askernish Golf Club.
Chief executive officer Darren Taylor said: “It has been a shock to everyone but people are being very sensible and looking out for each other.”
The Resilient Uist volunteer group has called for volunteers to come forward.
Western Isles MP Angus Macneil called for a similar level of testing in Uist to that is the Faroe Islands which has an aggressive programme of testing, including for asymptomatics.
Islands MSP Alasdair Allan urged people to stick to public health guidance and book a test if they develop symptoms.