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The rising impact of self-isolation as a Covid-19 control method is beginning to impact the Western Isles severely.

Now NHS Western Isles is saying: "To help avoid the spread of COVID-19, and increasing numbers of people having to self-isolate as close contacts of positive cases, please avoid car sharing with individuals from other households.  Where this is unavoidable, please car share as safely as possible."

And they warn that while vaccines help to prevent you from "becoming seriously ill from COVID, however it is still possible to catch and pass the virus on after having the vaccine.  Please ensure you continue to follow FACTS and keep our communities safe."

NHSWI Chief Executive Gordon Jamieson says there are now well over 250 close contacts in isolation across the Western Isles and we would urge everyone to keep close contacts to a minimum to help reduce the risk to local businesses, organisations and individuals.

Yesterday (Saturday July 25) there were 4 new cases of Covid-19 reported: 1 in Benbecula, 1 in North Uist (both linked to existing cases) and 2 new cases in Lewis.

On Friday First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s announced that “critical workers”, such as those working in Scotland’s food, transport and health and social care sectors, can apply to be exempt from COVID self-isolation guidance to address staffing shortages.

But this has run into opposition from the trade union movement which is fighting the SNP Government over a number of issues, such as trains, ferries and air traffic control.

GMB Scotland Secretary Louise Gilmour said:“The decision taken by the Scottish Government to introduce exemptions for critical workers from self-isolation guidance has been driven by resource, not by what’s safe for the workers or their families.

“It’s not frontline workers following COVID precautions that threatens to put key services at risk, but the cuts, underfunding and understaffing of these services that means we don’t have the capacity we need to respond in times of crisis.

“Whether it’s in the NHS, our social care sector or in our supermarkets, the story is the same: it’s low paid, exhausted and predominantly women workers who have to make sacrifices as a result of the failure of those at the top to plan and invest.

“GMB is urging the Scottish Government to rethink their decision to gamble with the lives of our key workers, before it’s too late.”

But Loganair chief executive Jonathan Hinkles said he welcomed the “timely” introduction of the new measures.

A spokesperson for the company said on Friday that while no scheduled Loganair passenger services have been affected as a result of self-isolation, some “requested additional oil and gas charter services” have not been able to go ahead.

Mr Hinkles said: “Our team has worked incredibly hard to keep lifeline routes and air services open throughout the pandemic. In recent days, it’s become increasingly challenging to do so, and we therefore welcome the Scottish Government’s timely introduction of measures to enable us to safeguard services on which so many communities depend for so much.

“At the same time, we recognise that the new measures place significant responsibilities on us as an employer, and we’ll work with every member of our team to make sure these measures to protect public health are upheld.”

On other islands, the number of cases also continues to grow. On Orkney, 2 new cases of COVID-19 were identified yesterday, Saturday,according to daily figures posted by Public Health Scotland.  This brings Orkney’s case total since the pandemic began to to 146. On the same basis, there have been 375 cases in the Western Isles.  

Scottish Summary: 24 July 2021

  • 1,307 new cases of COVID-19 reported
  • 23,857 new tests for COVID-19 reported results
  • 6.1% of these were positive
  • 11 new reported deaths of people who have tested positive
  • 478 people were in hospital yesterday with recently confirmed COVID-19
  • 60 people were in intensive care yesterday with recently confirmed COVID-19
  • 3,994,883 people have received the first dose of a Covid vaccination
  • 3,064,441 have received the second dose of a Covid vaccination