An Isle of Skye care home worker tested positive for coronavirus six weeks ago – but no follow-up tests were carried out on colleagues or residents, it has emerged.
The island is today reeling from news that 54 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed at the Home Farm care home in Portree.
However, a much earlier case of the virus was linked to NHS Highland-run An Acarsaid in Broadford.
Some details of the case were reported by the Free Press in early April, but we can now confirm that the person who tested positive was a worker at the Broadford care home.
The staff member told the Free Press that they had been left under the impression healthcare bosses would not disclose details for “fear of causing a panic”.
Instead, as they lay in their sick bed, it was left to the staff member themselves to inform colleagues and the relatives of care home residents of the positive test.
The case followed an initial hospital admission on the 20th March, and – despite showing atypical early symptoms – the following week tests revealed Covid-19.
The worker said they felt “it wasn’t right” that the information should be kept secret, and e-mailed details of the test to those most closely connected to the care home.
In the weeks since, the worker – who is still recovering at home – said some colleagues had shown some mild symptoms of coronavirus and had taken the advised time off to self-isolate.
However, despite referrals to Occupational Health, none of the staff were tested for Covid-19.
The staff member added: “It’s been very frustrating for them. There’s been a lot of anxiety, and a lot of staff time has been lost too.”
The Broadford care home is home to ten residents and has a total of 21 staff.
Last Friday the Scottish Government promised enhanced outbreak investigation measures at all care homes where there are cases of Covid-19 – including making testing available to all care home residents and staff, whether or not they have symptoms.
A mobile testing unit, manned by the army, is due to arrive in Broadford today (Monday 4th May).
A spokesperson for NHS Highland said: “NHS Highland is following national guidance on patient confidentiality and we will not make public where in the Highland any potential Covid-19 cases are.
“We have a process in place whereby we advise precautionary isolation for two weeks for any patient discharged to a care home from a hospital.
“Any staff with suspected symptoms are advised to follow the widely publicised guidance on self-isolation.
“With respect to testing, we would test in accordance with national guidance for the management of suspected respiratory outbreaks in care homes.”
At Home Farm in Portree 28 of the home’s 34 residents and 26 of its 52 staff tested positive, following blanket screening which was carried out last week.
Dr Ken Oates, director of public health at NHS Highland, said: “There is no evidence at this stage that Covid infection has spread further into the community.”