There's still ten days to go before the Uist Covid-19 outbreak can be declared over - and that can only happen if there are no new cases in the meantime.

That was the message of the latest update from NHS Western Isles Chief Executive, Gordon Jamieson last night (Wednesday 21 October).

He said that once again, there had been no new cases of COVID-19 yesterday. This was the 4th day with no new cases. 

He explained that the Director of Public Health states that at 14 days with no new cases, NHSWI could consider declaring the outbreak closed.

This leaves the total of cases from the outbreak in Eriskay, South Uist and Benbecula still at 50 - which is about seven times the total number of cases which had occurred on the Islands before the Uist outbreak.

Mr Jamieson, in his daily, late-evening, broadcast on Twitter, said again that he wanted everyone to continue to do whatever they could to keep to the guidelines to subdue the spread of the virus. He has earlier pointed out that the success of Test & Protect in subduing the Uist outbreak was dependent on the great co-operation of families afffected in accepting self-isolation as testing and tracing continued.

The complete total number of cases on the Islands, according to NHS Western Isles, since the start of the pandemic is 58.  There have now been 50 cases in South Uist, one in North Uist, and seven on Lewis.

Official national figures show a higher total but NHS Western Isles has retested several people and found they were negative for the virus when a more relaible test was used.  The total number of cases shown nationally grew again by two yesterday - reaching an apparent total of 64 on the NHS Scotland Tableau display.

Essentially, two individuals received positive results from a mainland laboratory, which were retested through the NHS Western Isles laboratory and were confirmed negative.

The mainland laboratory system was designed to provide rapid results for a large number of screening tests.  Where a result is a ‘weak positive’ in someone without risk factors for exposure to Covid-19, a confirmatory test is recommended. 

The confirmatory test that is used by NHS Western Isles in the local laboratory is called a Cepheid test which is considered to be the ‘gold standard’ in testing for Covid-19 and is used as the system to ‘retest’ as necessary.  Where this test is negative, the mainland laboratory test is regarded as a ‘false positive’.  In the two cases this week, confirmatory tests have shown that Covid-19 was not detected. The Western Isles public health department risk assess each Covid-19 result and all such tests are thoroughly investigated.