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