An outbreak of coronavirus on a small Hebridean island has grown to 10 cases in the space of three days.
Two of the first people identified on Barra on Monday to have the virus are in hospital and dozens of islanders who were close contacts have been self isolating this week.
Despite islanders’ efforts to follow restrictions the total had increased to 10 on Wednesday.
Barra has an elderly population and limited healthcare facilities for serious cases. The outbreak follows an flurry of cases in late 2020 on South Uist.
Meanwhile, there are now two cases on Benbecula.
Gordon Jamieson, chief executive of NHS Western Isles, said: “This is a rapidly developing situation.
“I would appeal to everyone – particularly residents on Barra – to limit their contact with other households and, to only leave home if it is absolutely essential.
“Please continue to take every precaution you can. We must contain and suppress this virus.”
On Barra, the local post office is operating on restricted hours and Castlebay Community School has closed to all pupils.
Local councillor Donald Manford said there had been “shock and dismay” at the rise in cases.
He said: “We are working tirelessly to protect ourselves.”
The owners of Castlebay Post Office posted on social media yesterday, saying: “Due to the current circumstances, with immediate effect, the Post Office will only be open 9-10.30am Monday to Friday.
“We are both medically vulnerable, one of us extremely so, together with many others on the island, who like us who are scared and very wary of how to proceed.
“In order to limit exposure and potential contamination, while still trying to offer a service, we feel this is the best and safest thing we can do.
“May God keep us all safe. Better days will come.”
An array of additional measures will be in place to help the Post Office operate safely when open.
Earlier in the week the head teacher at Castlebay Community School, Suzanne Forman, urged parents to only send children to school if they had absolutely no other childcare.
NHS Western Isles said it was of particular importance members of households do not mix with each other in each others homes.
Islanders have been told to be particularly vigilant and immediately self isolate – along with their entire household – and book a test, if they develop symptoms.
Level three restrictions apply in the Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland and some islands in Argyll and Bute and the Highlands.
On the mainland, a nuclear site’s fire service has been hit by coronavirus.
After positive Covid test results were reported within Dounreay’s fire and rescue service, many of the staff still working at the Caithness site were told not to come in.
Dounreay is operating in full compliance with Scottish Government regulations, a site spokeswoman said.
The number of Covid cases at two independent care homes in Invergordon has increased, with a total of 14 residents in Castle Gardens Care Home and 24 residents in Kintyre House Care Home now testing positive.
A number of staff members at each care home have also been confirmed positive and they are self-isolating as per the national guidance.
NHS Highland also said the number of cases at Fodderty Care Home in Dingwall has increased to 13 residents. A number of staff are self-isolating.
In Oban, four people were fined after officers received reports of a small gathering taking place at a house in Miller Road.
A police spokeswoman said: “We were called to a property on Miller Road, Oban at about 10.25pm on Wednesday, January 14, following reports of people breaching coronavirus regulations.
“Officers issued four people with fines.”