Coronavirus contact tracing, like that now going on in Skye after a new confirmed case of Covid-19, is being led by two existing staff members of NHS Highland.
The health board was confirmed last week as one of three areas in Scotland to trial new contact tracing functions ahead of a national roll-out of the Test, Trace, Isolate and Support strategy aimed at halting the spread of infection.
The latest case of Covid-19 on Skye was reported on Thursday night, and NHS Highland has said it had contacted all those directly affected, given them the appropriate advice and is in the process of organising testing.
Ross, Skye and Badenoch MSP Kate Forbes said she had been told that the case was not linked to the outbreak at Home Farm nursing home, where over 60 cases were reported and where 10 residents who tested positive for the virus have died.
The disclosure of the case on the island marks a change in policy from the health authority who up until now had refused to give details of where in the board area a case was – citing national guidance on patient confidentiality.
Kate Forbes said: “NHS Highland has confirmed that there is another case of Covid on Skye, with somebody testing positive.
“Having tested this person, the NHS are now effectively tracing the case and contacting all those who have been in contact with the individual to give them advice and to test them as well.
“As soon as there was confirmation of a positive case in Home Farm earlier this month, NHS Highland tested residents and staff of all the care homes on Skye and contacted the households of staff who had confirmed positive to ensure they self-isolated.
“There is an increased testing capacity on the island already, with the mobile testing unit complementing the testing facility in Portree.
“All resources and support will be provided to ensure that this case does not spread through the community. Please stay at home, remember to social distance and keep washing your hands.
NHS Highland’s Director of Public Health Dr Ken Oates said: “Contact tracing will form an integral part of the Covid-19 outbreak response. NHS boards have been tasked with developing interim solutions for building local contact tracing capacity ahead of the proposed national contact tracing service.
“NHS Highland is one of a small number of NHS boards that will be trialling the training and guidance materials developed to support the contact tracing function across Scotland.
“Two staff members will be supporting the pilot this week and the number of contact tracers will be increased incrementally to meet the demand until the national contact tracing service is in place.”
In an update issued to Skye councillor Calum Munro on Monday this week NHS Highland said that since the outbreak at Home Farm was identified, more than 200 tests have been carried out on care home residents, care home staff, health care staff and members of the community on Skye.
There have been 29 residents and 33 staff that have tested positive for Covid-19 in Home Farm, but all residents and staff at the island’s An Acarsaid and Budhmor care homes tested negative.
Wider testing has been established to allow symptomatic key workers (and others who cannot work from home), and anyone over the age of five who is symptomatic to know whether or not they have the virus.
Community Assessment Centres, including on at Portree, have been set up solely for people who have been given an appointment through NHS24.
People are encouraged to phone NHS 24 on 111 instead of a GP for help or advice if they have Covid-19 symptoms.
Tests can be booked through the UK Government’s on-line system here.