NHS Orkney Covid19 Testing Figures

NHS Orkney commenced testing for Covid19 on  April 20th 2020.

A total of 680 tests were undertaken between the 20th of April and the 24th of June 2020.

NHS Orkney weekly testing Covid19

There was only 1 positive NHS Orkney test for Covid19  and that was in the first week of testing 20th – 24th of April 2020.

NHS Orkney is not able to publish how many people have been tested, only how many tests have been conducted through their lab.

There have been 9 positive cases of Covid19 in Orkney –  9th Confirmed Case of #Covid19 in Orkney And sadly 2 people have died.

This table shows the cumulative figures for positive tests in NHS Health Board Areas in Scotland Starting on 17th of June 2020

cumulative positive tests by board Covid 19

Prior to 15 June the figures show people tested through NHS labs only. The increase on 15 June is due to the addition of all the UKG cases to the database. COVID 19 data by NHS Board 26 June 2020

Contact Tracing

Test and Protect relies not just on testing but on the vital role of contact tracing.

Since the 28th of May when the Scottish Government launched Test and Protect NHS Orkney has had a 100% success rate in contact tracing. As there are no full time contact tracers in Orkney this work has been achieved by 2 part time workers. There are 8 workers in reserve should their services be needed.

Antibody testing and Immunity to Covid19

On the 23rd of June  the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Gregor Smith, wrote to all Health Boards in Scotland about collecting data on antibody testing to aid research about possible immunity in people who have recovered from Covid19. In total 4,431 antibody tests for surveillance purposes have been completed in Scotland as of 19th June.

Antibody testing is not available in NHS Orkney.

Dr Smith said:

“Having assessed the research available, there is currently insufficient clinical evidence to absolutely conclude that people who have recovered from COVID-19 are protected from either a second infection or from infecting others.

“Until such evidence exists the main public health benefits are for research purposes or in the clinical management of patients.

“The World Health Organisation and SAGE have warned there are potentially negative impacts on public health if individuals assume immunity from a positive result and adapt their behaviour in a way which could increase the risk of continued transmission.

“On this basis, advice to health boards is not to offer on-demand antibody testing.

“Our approach is being kept under ongoing review.

“If clinical evidence around immunity changes we will swiftly roll out a national antibody testing programme in order to realise the potential health, social and economic benefits this would offer, and are preparing now for that prospect.”

There is current research into antibody testing to determine if there is a level of immunity to Covid 19. Large-scale COVID-19 infection and antibody test study launched

Some recent research indicates that frequent testing of large numbers of people is a more effective way at limiting the spread of Covid 19 even with a relatively insensitive test. Weekly testing with isolation or suspected/positive cases was more effective than waiting on Surveillance Testing. Link: Surveillance testing of SARS-CoV-2

“effective surveillance, including time to first detection and outbreak control, depends largely on frequency of testing and the speed of reporting”

Return to Schooling

It was announced by the Education Minister, John Swinney, that when schools in Scotland return on 11th of August it could be  full time  – Welcome News on Schooling.

Over the lockdown period teachers and education staff have provided classroom schooling for the children of essential workers, online learning and printed materials. They have also prepared for blended learning. This form of learning which would see pupils attend school for part of the week and the rest using online/printed materials at home was declared undeliverable in Orkney by Leader of OIC Councillor James Stockan. Blended Schooling “undeliverable and impossible for us to put into practice” in Orkney

There are no procedures in place to test teachers and school staff in Orkney on their return after the summer break because this is not part of the Scottish Government’s testing policy.

Care Homes

Figures are now published weekly on the testing of residents and staff at Care Homes in Scotland.

This table illustrates the number of tests of Care Home Staff and Residents

Numbers of tests - staff and residents by Board 22nd June

This table illustrates the number of individual people who have been tested in Care Homes, residents in staff for the week up to 22nd June 2020

Number of people tested in care homes 22nd June 2020

Number of people tested in care homes 22nd June 2020

It is not possible to compare both tables. You can read more about the weekly figures here: R Number in Scotland Drops to Between 0.6 and 0.8

The information on NHS Orkney testing has been provided through a Freedom of Information Request and I thank them for that quick response.

Download here: Response Letter FOI Request 202021-072

Face Masks and Face Coverings

From Monday 29th of June  all staff and patients in health and care home settings are to wear a medical face mask in clinical areas.

David McArthur Director of Nursing, Midwifery, Allied Health Professionals and Acute Service in NHS Orkney said

“The safety of our colleagues and patients continues to be our main priority, from Monday, those attending for appointments at The Balfour will be asked on arrival to remove any face coverings they are wearing. Masks, along with alcohol-based hand rub and bins will be located outside clinical areas within the hospital.

“There may be occasions when it is not appropriate for colleagues to wear face masks in a clinical area for example when communicating with patients who lip read or have a cognitive impairment, in these situations, physical distancing will be maintained to safeguard our workforce and the patient”

“We would like to thank all our colleagues who are working so hard to ensure services continue enabling us to safeguard and protect residents and would also like to thank the public for their understanding and co-operation at this time”.

Face coverings/masks are now compulsory on all public transport in Scotland. It is not yet compulsory to wear one in shops but that is under review once the wider re-opening for the retail sector takes place from Monday 29th of June.

The 2m (6ft) physical distance rule remains in place for the time being.

NHS Orkney test phone number


Reporter: Fiona Grahame


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