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Please learn the lessons of the Uist Covid-19 outbreak…that's the plea from Western Isles NHS this morning (Tuesday October 13)

Physical distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene, the use of face masks and coverings, and not entering other households or have others entering your home are all vitally important to prevent further spread.

A feature of the current outbreak in Uist (which covers South Uist, Eriskay and Benbecula) is that the vast majority of people who have contracted COVID-19 infection have experienced mild symptoms.

Whilst this is clearly something that is positive for those individuals affected, it also means that individuals have been later in self-isolating and requesting a test, which did result in further spread to close contacts.

"If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, no matter how mild, please self isolate and book a test immediately to help prevent any further spread. You should continue to self isolate until you have been told the outcome of your COVID-19 test."

NHS Western Isles have become aware through the contact tracing process that spread of COVID-19 in Uist can happen as a result of car sharing outwith households. COVID-19 spreads quickly and easily in cars, even when people are wearing masks.

"We would strongly encourage everyone wherever possible to avoid car sharing with anyone from outwith your household and, wherever possible, do not car share in the workplace. (There are of course exemptions, including those taking driving lessons). If car sharing is unavoidable, you should take every precaution, including:

  • limiting the number of people in the vehicle;
  • washing your hands before entering and after leaving the vehicle;
  • maintaining good ventilation and opening windows for the duration of the journey;
  • sitting as far apart as possible, and avoid face to face (i.e. one person driving and one in the back);
  • wearing a face mask or covering for the duration of the journey;
  • ensuring you cough or sneeze into your elbow or into a tissue and dispose of the tissue in a bin after leaving the vehicle; and
  • wiping down surfaces that people touch (e.g. door handles) before entering the car and after the journey.
  • if there is no other alternative but to car share, take steps where possible to share with the same individual/s each time.

"We must ensure that local communities understand what self isolation means and why it is so important.  When you, or someone in your household/extended household, has symptoms, we ask that you self isolate and book a test as soon as you experience symptoms, no matter how mild.

"If you, or someone in your household or extended household, tests positive for COVID-19 infection, you will be asked to continue to self isolate for a set period of time (10 days from the onset of symptoms if you are the one who has tested positive; or 14 days if someone from your household/extended household has tested positive).

"If someone from within your household/extended household tests positive and you have others from within your household at work or at school, they should return home as soon as possible to self isolate."

When you have been identified through contact tracing: - The NHS Test and Protect Team may contact you to let you know you have been identified as a close contact of someone who have tested positive for COVID-19. This is another situation in which you will be asked to self isolate. Please ensure you complete your self-isolation period, as explained to you, as it is possible that you may be incubating the virus and could pass it on to others. Any other members of your household who are also contacts will be asked to self-isolate too. If they are not, then they are not contacts and can continue with their usual activities.

What does self isolation mean? Self isolation is when you do not leave your house because you have or might have COVID-19. It may also mean that you have to separate yourself from the rest of your household in order to protect them from COVID-19 infection.

If your household is in self isolation, you should not go to work, you should not send your children to school, you should not visit others or have others visit you, you should not go to the shops, and you should not go for a walk or run. You must not use public transport under any circumstances.

You should stay at home/in your current residence for the period of your self isolation, and only leave to have your COVID-19 test or in the event of an emergency. You can, if you wish, spend time in your garden if it is not a shared space.

Why do I have to self isolate? Self isolation is important to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection to others that you may come into contact with. It is important that you complete your self isolation period. For those self isolating as a result of being a close contact of someone with COVID-19, it is important that you complete your 14 day self isolation period (from the date of last contact with the case) even in the event that you test negative for COVID-19 during your isolation period. This is because you may be incubating the virus and could still potentially pass the virus on to others.

Support: - We are very conscious of how challenging self isolation can be, and there is support available through various routes. This support may be for shopping, prescriptions, financial support, walking dogs and advising on child care.

  • National Assistance Helpline (0800 111 4000) or textphone (0800 111 4114). The helpline is open from 9.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday
  • Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (01851 600 501). Enquiries can also be channelled to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  • Resilient Uist for help with the collection of medication and shopping (07976416811) or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

All of the above is available on the NHS Western Isles Coronavirus website