Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil has commended the strong community spirit of his island home in the face of the escalating Covid-19 outbreak on Barra.
Currently there are 39 positive cases with more than 100 close contacts now in isolation and more testing is underway.
As a resident on the island, Mr MacNeil has been on Barra since last year and conducted parliamentary business via modern technology from his home.
He said: “The island community is pulling together very well at this time. People are very helpful of one another – doing shopping, sending a lot of messages and staying in touch with those who are positive.
“Those that are positive are our friends, neighbours and cousins and it could be us in the next few days or weeks, we just don’t know.
“One of the good things that has happened is people are letting everyone else know if they have tested positive or negative, this helps people work out quickly who has been in contact with anybody. This has been hugely helpful in giving us all an idea of where the virus is moving on the island.
“We are also very grateful for those doing the testing and getting the tests in to Stornoway and the testing being done in the lab that has given us the results to make the decisions on.
“There is a good island spirit, people pulling together and understanding the situation and with offers of support coming from organisations and individuals throughout the islands.
“We know there is a global pandemic on the go and at some point it was probably inevitable that the pandemic was going to come. We now have to make sure, as other islands have done, that we banish the virus from our shores, hopefully sooner rather than later.”
NHS Western Isles stresses the vital importance that individuals with symptoms, regardless of how mild, self isolate IMMEDIATELY and arrange a test. Please do not assume that any symptoms are that of a cold or other winter virus – it is absolutely imperative that anyone with symptoms self isolates and books a test to prevent any potential further spread of the virus.
Be vigilant for all symptoms, in particular loss or change of taste or sense of smell (which has been a common factor in this outbreak). Please also be vigilant for any new respiratory symptoms or any new illness and arrange a test if concerned.
NHS Western Isles are also alerting individuals across Barra to the potential risks of using items of high levels of contact (e.g. cash machine) and advise the use of cards where possible. Where this is not possible, use hand sanitizer before and after using the cash machine, as well as disinfectant wipes before and after use where possible.
Individuals should avoid regular trips to the supermarket and keep shopping trips to a minimum and as necessary. Shop alone, wear a mask at all times and hand sanitise before and after shopping. Respect other shoppers/shop workers by ensuring you maintain a two metre distance from others at all times.
To access testing, contact 01851 601151 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Please leave a message on the answering machine with your details if you do not get a response and your call will be returned. Alternatively contact NHS24 on 111.