A third case of coronavirus infection on the Isle of Lewis has been reported today (14.00, Wednesday April 1) in the official Scottish Government figures.

It was only yesterday afternoon that the first two cases were confirmed to be on the Isle of Lewis.

At 16.41 today, NHS Western Isles announced that it "can confirm that there are now three cases of COVID-19 in the Western Isles. The cases are all on the Isle of Lewis, and all individuals are managing their own symptoms at home, and are being followed up daily by NHS staff."

And Ian Burgess, who chairs NHS Western Isles, issued a statement immediately afterwards saying: "I am writing this message to pass on my grateful thanks to both our NHS Western Isles staff and staff of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Social Care who are working tirelessly in our hospitals, communities and care homes throughout the Islands to continue to provide excellent care to our population. My thanks also go to the many volunteers throughout our communities who are helping us defeat this awful virus.

"It is truly humbling to see our community come together, work together and support our most vulnerable individuals and groups.

"I would like to sincerely welcome and thank those members of staff who are returning from retirement to help the effort by putting their considerable experience and competence to helping others.

"We are told to practice ‘social distancing’ and isolation measures designed to reduce our interaction with others and reduce the opportunities for the virus to spread. Worldwide we have seen that isolation is effective in reducing and slowing down the spread of the virus. So please follow this important advice for as long as it takes. It is vital to protect your local NHS services across the Western Isles.

"I have been so impressed with the planning that has gone on over a number of weeks to prepare for COVID-19. Our staff across the board have excelled themselves and have worked tirelessly to plan and prepare, so that we can care for our patients to the best of our ability in the toughest of times.

"My grateful thanks to all of you for doing what you do so well, especially in the midst of all this planning and preparation work which may soon prove to be vital."

Nationally there are now two officially confirmed cases from Orkney which first became known on Monday night, when the Western Isles NHS very briefly became the only NHS Board to have no official positive test results.  These cases mean that multiple numbers of Covid-19 cases are known to be present in every health board area in Scotland.

A total of 76 patients in Scotland who tested positive for coronavirus have now died, it was stated by the Scottish Government today, Wednesday April 1.

That is 16 more than yesterday.

The total for Highland Region was 58 - seven up on yesterday

There are 30 cases shown for Shetland - an increase of one from the previous day.

A total of 17,007 Scottish tests have been concluded so far. Of these:

  • 1993 tests were positive. That's up 317 from yesterday, a rise of 16%.
  • In all, 1227 of the cases were in the Greater Glasgow, Clyde, Lanarkshire and Lothian areas - an increase of 177 since yesterday, up 17%

The latest national coronavirus figures were confirmed at 2pm today.

The report notes that of the 430 new laboratory reports yesterday, 108 were from the Dundee laboratory which had been unable to submit data over the weekend or Monday morning.

Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron has welcomed the support the RAF is providing to island residents who have been diagnosed with COVID-19.Mr Cameron made his comments as it was revealed that the first diagnoses of the disease had been made in the Western Isles.

He said: “Residents in our island communities will be reassured that the armed forces are being enlisted in the fight against coronavirus.

“Providing airlift capacity could be crucial for people who require urgent treatment.

“The extra resources provided by the Royal Air Force are extremely welcome, as is news that military officers are supporting NHS Western Isles in their planning work.

“Across the country, our armed forces are doing sterling work, reminding us this is truly a national effort helping get us through this health emergency”. 

Isles MP Angus Brendan MacNeil said: “I contacted Caledonian MacBrayne after constituents got in touch with concerns that a handful of people who are not normally resident in the islands are coming here to isolate.

“CalMac has informed me that traffic for passengers and cars has dropped to around 5% of normal passenger demand and 60% of normal commercial traffic. They have confirmed that they do seek evidence of island residency or key worker status from travellers who coming by ferry. This is obviously a very welcome step and will go some way I hope to relieve fears.  They also have posters in ferry terminals to dissuade non-essential travel.

“However, we are now in a changing situation and is not just about who is travelling to the islands that matters but what we all do to make sure that we are not spreading it amongst ourselves. It is important that we are not spreading it further and therefore we should be staying at home the best we can

“Like every other community around the world, Covid-19 is here amongst us and I wish all those affected a speedy recovery.”

There’s been an urgent call to follow Government advice on staying home, following news yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 31 March) that two cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the Western Isles.

Chief executive of NHS Western Isles Gordon Jamieson confirmed yesterday afternoon that two people in Lewis have tested positive for the virus, news which he described as disappointing.

Although neither patient was identified officially, the son of one of those affected posted last night on social media, urging that fellow-islanders take serious heed of the ‘stay at home’ instructions issued by health and Government authorities.

He said: “Listen to me, listen to Government guidance and listen to us as a family who are completely united and fighting this virus.

“The risks are simply not worth venturing out for that wee trip to the Co-op that is not necessary, that wee visit to Froggans because you forgot deodorant, that visit to Tesco for a couple of items, a wee plod in the grounds because you’re fed up or a wee spin round the island because you fancy seeing what’s going on in Ness, Point, Lochs etc.

“Don’t let your arrogance exceed your ignorance. Yes, our dear dad has Covid-19 and he hopefully will be absolutely fine. Others will not be so fortunate. This is why you MUST stay at home.”

The passionate plea is backed by island emergency planners, concerned that too many islanders are still making unnecessary trips, despite Government advice.

Western Isles group commander for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Gavin Hammond is a member of the Western Isles Emergency Planning and Co-ordination Group.

He said: “Concern has been raised in the group because across the isles people still seem to be making unnecessary journeys by car.

“There is an absolute need for people to follow the Government and NHS guidance on staying at home, social distancing and hygiene.

“It’s been made clear that people should make only essential journeys. Continuing to take your dog to its favourite beach, as opposed to down the road for its walk, constitutes a non-essential journey.”

That message was also reinforced by Western Isles Police, who tweeted yesterday: “People are advised to stay local for exercise and use open spaces near your home where possible to avoid any unnecessary travel, including driving. Stay safe, stay home.”

Specific questions such as whether it is acceptable to tend to sheep during lambing are covered by the existing guidance, which says:

“You should only leave the house for very limited purposes, for example for basic necessities, such as food and medicine. Trips must be as infrequent as possible.

“(For) daily exercise, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household and to ensure basic animal welfare needs are met, including taking dogs out when necessary.”

Also listed as essential travel are medical needs, including to avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person and travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home.

The Government advice adds: “These reasons are exceptions - even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your household. These measures must be followed by everyone.”

People are also being asked not to make extra calls to over-stretched public services to check on individual circumstances.

Police Scotland has reinforced their message that the non-emergency number 101 and the emergency number 999 should NOT be used to ask for COVID-19 advice. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is also seeing a high number of calls seeking advice.

Instead people should go to existing sources such as https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/ and

https://www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus

 

 

Crown Estate Scotland has today (Wednesday April 1) published its three-year plan setting out how it will manage sea, land and coastline for the benefit of Scotland’s communities and businesses.

Since being established in 2017, the organisation has fostered new ways of working with local and community partners, supported the growth of offshore renewables and helped develop new ways of farming land sustainably.

In the first two years alone, Crown Estate Scotland also returned over £20m to the Scottish Government for public spending.

The Plan launched today provides a blueprint for Crown Estate Scotland – operating under new legislation that focuses on sustainable development –to continue delivering wider value for Scotland. 

It includes investing £70m over three years, commercial-scale offshore wind leasing, a new communities fund and raft of support for new ways of producing food on land and at sea.

The 2020-23 Corporate Plan outlines five main objectives which are:
    •    Support the expansion of Scotland’s blue economy, focussing on marine and coastal development.
    •    Develop built environment that strengthens communities and benefits businesses
    •    Invest in innovation and work with tenants to enable sustainable use of natural resources
    •    Build partnerships for people and the planet
    •    Develop and deploy our people’s expertise to deliver value and success

Crown Estate Scotland Chair Amanda Bryan, said: “Over the coming years we want to invest in property, natural resources and people to generate lasting value. From growing shellfish to new ways of farming, regenerating coastal communities to building Scotland’s blue economy, our focus will be sustainable growth that benefits all.

“We are looking forward to working with communities and businesses to deliver positive change for Scotland.”

The full 2020-23 Corporate Plan can be found here.


Ewen Grant and Janice Cooney have had to stop their popular seafood cruises because of the Coronavirus emergency but their second job remains vital – providing a lifeline to the lonely island of Rona which is an hour-long voyage from their base on the Isle of Skye.

Rona has only four residents - current caretaker Bill Cowie and his wife Lorraine and another couple who were chosen out of scores of applicants to be inducted as the island’s custodians and to take over when Bill and Lorraine retire.

Ewen and Janice, who is also working as a nurse during the pandemic, usually run half and full-day cruises for up to 12 people on their 40 foot luxury catamaran Seaflower from Portree to Rona and neighbouring Raasay, serving freshly caught seafood on board.  In only its second year of operation in 2019 it was awarded 5 Star Visitor Attraction status by VisitScotland.

They have the contract to deliver supplies to Rona from their base in Portree.  Raasay and Rona were both once well populated but during the 18th and 19th century many left to a new life in the United States and Canada.  Rona, now owned by a Danish family and home to hundreds of deer, was a notorious haven for pirates operating out of its concealed natural harbour for several centuries. In former times, they were part of the patrimony of the Macleods of Lewis.

“Seaflower is the only way to get essential supplies to an almost deserted but magical island,” said Ewen. “We’re determined to continue to make sure the resident quartet have all they need during the pandemic.”

  • www.welovestornoway.com would love to tell how communities and businesses are helping each other out during the coronavirus emergency - please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

CalMac has seen passenger numbers drop by 95% since new rules on essential ferry travel were put in place.
The west coast ferry operator introduced an essential lifeline timetable last week aimed at keeping essential goods, services and people going to and from the islands.
Since then the company has carried just 2593 passengers compared to 57,233 for the same period last year, a drop of 95%. Some services are running with just one or two passengers along with the essential goods and services.
‘It is hugely encouraging that the public are paying attention to the Government advice of do not travel unless your journey is absolutely essential,’ said CalMac’s Managing Director, Robbie Drummond.
‘We are fully committed to keeping lifeline services running to the islands we support, bringing in food, fuel and medical supplies and taking off goods vital to keeping local economies running. The vast majority of people are getting that message loud and clear and we are only turning away a very small number at our ports.”
Throughout March commercial vehicles are also down by 32% over the same period last year.
CalMac operates a fleet of 33 vessels servicing 28 routes from Campbeltown in the south to Stornoway in the north.
Robbie added, ‘This has been an extremely challenging time for our staff and our communities, and I want to praise both for the way in which they have handed these unique circumstances.”
CalMac is seeking evidence of Island residency or key worker status for all customers on all sailings. Commercial customers have been made aware that they are expected to provide evidence to their drivers that they are carrying essential goods or providing essential services as defined by the Scottish Government.
CalMac has also published essential travel guidance on its website and last Thursday it published posters at ports and on vessels about essential travel and self-isolation.
 

“When you get a full lift of prawns or a full lift of people, it is the same feeling,” muses everyone’s favourite frontman Calum ‘Boydie’ Macleod as he reflects on the meteoric rise of his band to packed festival tents, arena shows and selling out the Glasgow Barrowlands in less than 30 minutes!

This is just one of the many pearls of wisdom Boydie shares in a 90-minute exclusive documentary special, ‘That’s the way we do it! – Peat & Diesel’, produced by Stornoway-based MacTV which will air on Friday, April 3 on BBC ALBA at 9pm.

This is the first programme in a BBC ALBA Peat & Diesel Friday evening double bill, as they take over the airwaves, with the documentary followed by  ‘Peat & Diesel - From the Barrow to the Barrowlands’ – an hour of concert highlights from their incredible, sold-out gig at the iconic Glasgow music venue, when 2000 fans gathered for a night to remember.    

The band were never meant to be such an unprecedented and unparalleled success. After all if you were told a fisherman, a delivery driver and an electrician walked into a bar, you would be waiting for the punchline.

The lads themselves, Boydie, Uilly Macleod on drums and accordion-master Innes Scott have been taken aback by a year in which they have exploded onto playlists around the world, on to the wishlists of promoters throughout the entire UK from Stornoway to London, and become unlikely celebrities.

“I never called myself a singer or a songwriter and I still don’t,” reveals Boydie to director Daibhidh Martin of MacTV in the film, where the award-winning Martin spent almost 10-months as the unofficial fourth member of the band, following them across the country as ‘Peatlemania’ exploded.

“I feel lucky that the boys let me just follow them around and film anything. They were so easy with the camera and it was a bit of a riot really,” laughed Martin.

“They’re just up for a laugh all the time and loads of fun. It was amazing to watch their popularity go through the roof, something they just take in their stride. They’re also brilliant with their fans and are happy to spend hours with them doing signings and taking pictures.

“It was really hard to put the documentary together, trying to get the balance of telling the story of the band and their lives away from it all, and showing all the nonsense that they get up to. Hopefully the fans like it.”

Accordion player Innes Scott reckons the documentary perfectly captures the P&D spirit and he describes it as a hilarious watch.  “Having the camera with us was quite difficult at first as we thought we had to maybe act out scenes like one of those reality shows, but after a while we realised we could be the way we were, especially Boydie and not care,” he said.

“The public are as well to see behind the scenes,  as that’s sometimes where Boydie is his best. I think the doc started at just the right time before the explosion.  We are just glad they had the ability to keep up with us to catch all the good bits. We think it tells the story of P&D to a tee. We thought we would be cringing watching ourselves in the doc but it was just like watching a comedy.”

For MacTV, it was a real coup to get the opportunity to work with the band, and document their incredible journey. “When we approached the band with the documentary idea back in June last year, the band were such hot property, and we were just delighted they chose us to follow them and tell the story of the band and this amazing journey that has since followed,” said Head of Production & Development, Seumas Mactaggart.

“Then when the Barrowlands gig became a reality, selling out in 30 minutes, we knew that we wanted to capture what was going to be such a special evening for both those who were there, and also their many fans across Scotland, and beyond - and it didn’t disappoint!”

Their foot-tapping, hip thrusting, partner-swinging, head-bopping songs about island life, parties on the moor and an eclectic array of characters have captured the musical hearts of a nation but like us all just now they are on hiatus as they practice social distancing with the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.  And while we are all forced to stay indoors just now, the MacTV documentary & concert BBC ALBA double bill, about three Lewis boys done, has arrived at the perfect time. A chance to welcome the boys into our homes for two and a half hours of Peat and Diesel fuelled fun, and a welcome chance to smile.

Before the COVID-19 crisis, Peat and Diesel had sold almost all their tickets for an Irish tour, and they had loads of summer festivals and an end-of-year tour to look forward to. Now most of their gigs have been cancelled, but the band remain optimistic.  “I don’t think the band will lose momentum,” explained Scott. “We’re a bit behind with making videos and this will be time to recharge.”

Just before the lockdown Peat & Diesel explained to fans on their Facebook page why they hadn’t been playing gigs online, like so many other bands have during the lockdown. The comment read: “We are all facing difficult times ahead with self-isolation and social distancing happening all around us which MUST be taken very serious!

“Musicians are playing tunes online to cheer people up and we just want to say the reason we haven’t is due to Boydie being at sea gathering his thoughts, and without Boydie there is no Peat & Diesel!  We met up quickly tonight and it will be the last time we probably get together until this all blows over and we will be back to give it laldy!”

However, recently the band had a virtual meet-up for a 10 minute test of  a streaming service on Facebook, only to end up playing to an online audience of more than 1000 people, with over 25,000 having watched it since ! There’s no doubt there will me more to come over the coming weeks and months, so watch this space.

The band’s journey began on Boydie’s couch, when an impromptu jam he filmed and posted online racked up a remarkable 25,000 hits overnight. He recruited Scott shortly afterwards, with the accordion player accepting to then be told it was a good job he said yes as they had a festival booking that very weekend!

The Peat and Diesel story has been a runaway triumph of musical success and ‘That’s The Way We Do It’ charts 12-months to remember for the lads -  with backstage footage, on the road with the band, the battle to balance full time jobs with the band,  and their own thoughts on the rise of ‘Peatlemania.’

‘That’s the way we do it! – Peat & Diesel’  will air on BBC ALBA at 9pm, with the 90-minute special immediately followed at 10.30pm by ‘Peat & Diesel - From the Barrow to the Barrowlands’, highlights from the one of the band’s  biggest gigs yet, at the iconic Scottish music venue.

Photographs: Alan Cruickshank Photographic DCT Media