After months when Orkney saw no additional cases of Covid-19 beyond the ninth recorded in mid-June, we have seen the recent fishing boat-related cases bring the total up to 16. And with contact tracing under way on another case discovered just this weekend and unrelated to the fishing boat, it is clear that the more free movement of people around Scotland is bringing with it the potential for new Covid-19 cases.
Thankfully NHS Orkney is focused on stopping the spread of Covid-19 in Orkney. As Director of Public Health Dr Louise Wilson said this week, the community can help by maintaining physical distancing, wearing face coverings and washing their hands with soap and water.
Where clusters such as the recent one in Aberdeen develop, identifying them and acting quickly is an absolute priority. Our robust Test & Protect system continues to support the suppressing of the virus in these occurrences. However, as we have seen with Aberdeen, tighter restrictions and intervention are sometimes required to minimise the spread.
Whilst the incidence and prevalence of the virus continues to be low, most recent estimates suggest that the R number could currently be above 1. This serves as a timely reminder that the virus is still very much here so we must continue to do the right thing. It is important that everybody follows these five golden rules:
- Face coverings, shops, public transport already the law of course, but in any enclosed space
- Avoid crowded places. That obviously is really important indoors but it is important outdoors as well
- Clean your hands obsessively and clean hard surfaces, that you are touching, obsessively as well
- Two metre distancing remains the rule and
- Self isolate, and book a test, if you have any of the symptoms
After a review last week, the First Minister announced further easing of lockdown restrictions. Bingo halls, arcades, casinos, snooker halls, funfairs, face-to-face advice services, driving lessons and certain outdoor live events now have the go-ahead. The Scottish Government have also brought forward the date for which gyms, swimming pools and indoor sports courts can reopen to the 31st of August. All re-openings are reliant on the relevant guidance being implemented before the re-opening date, alongside strict hygiene measures and physical distancing once open.
Meanwhile, with another poll showing support for independence soaring across Scotland – making Boris Johnson’s attempts to deny the right of the people to decide their own future is now utterly unsustainable. With consecutive polls putting support for independence above 50%, it’s clear this is not a trend but the established position of the Scottish electorate. When we look at Boris Johnson’s handling of coronavirus, and his Tory government’s contempt for all things Scotland, it is no wonder that the majority of voters in Scotland want to make their own decisions on the future of our country. More and more people in Scotland want the future of their country to be in their own hands, and not in the hands of Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings.
Maree Todd is the SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands. All regional MSPs have been offered the same space in The Orkney News to share their personal views.