Level 4 'not ruled out' for Shetland amid worst Covid-19 outbreak since March

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said the Scottish Government is thinking “very carefully” about increasing lockdown restrictions in Shetland after the archipelago announced its most serious Covid-19 outbreak since March.

Some 30 cases have been confirmed in the past week, with more than 120 people told to self-isolate.

NHS Shetland public health principal Elizabeth Robinson said the islands would “almost certainly” be moved to level four restrictions if cases continued to rise.

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Shetland Islands Council has banned visiting to its 18 care homes and centres.

The Gilbert Bain Hospital in Lerwick, Shetland.
The Gilbert Bain Hospital in Lerwick, Shetland.

The area is currently in level three, along with other islands, due to previously low case numbers.

The majority of cases in the existing outbreak have been attributed to social interaction, especially over the festive period.

"This is a virus that knows no bounds, it has infected many in our community during the festive season,” said Ms Robinson.

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“This is not a time to judge or point fingers, but rather for each one of us to look at our own actions and ensure that we are doing everything possible to keep ourselves and others safe.

“Should the infection rate continue, it is almost certain that Shetland will be moved to level four – which is currently in force across Scotland with the exception of the islands.”

The First Minister said authorities were closely monitoring the situation in Shetland.

She said: “We are looking very carefully at Shetland right now. Shetland on Boxing Day, as mainland Scotland went into level four, went into level three, which was a level above where its cases would suggest normally where it should be.”

Despite this “significant precautionary action”, Ms Sturgeon said “we don’t rule anything out”.

NHS Shetland warned on December 26 that “social gatherings” were the cause for some new cases.

"Our Covid-19 case numbers are rising and we are aware some of these are due to illegal social gatherings,” a spokesperson said.

"As of today [December 26], we are in protection level three and visiting one another's houses is not permitted.

"The only exceptions are if you are providing care and support to a vulnerable person or as part of an extended household for people who live alone to reduce loneliness and isolation.

"Please do the right thing and protect the Shetland community - stopping the spread starts with all of us.”

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