The scale of the outbreak of Covid-19 on the isles of Barra and Vatersay is escalating rapidly.

The latest update from NHS Western Isles Chief Executive Gordon Jamieson says there have been 17 positive cases of #COVID19 identified today (Friday January 15) on Barra with more tests going through the system and more testing expected at the weekend.

This brings the total to 27, more than half the total in the previous big outbreak in South Uist and Eriskay which hit 50 before the infections were contained

Mr Jamieson says this is a serious situation with the number of cases escalating quickly and more than 110 close contacts identified and means more than one tenth of the islands’ population is already directly affected.

Earlier in the day Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan attended a meeting about the Barra and Vatersay Covid-19 outbreak with NHS Western Isles, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and community organisations and representatives in Barra. He said later: “Non-essential travel is prohibited, and I understand from Police Scotland that they have been carrying out periodic checks on ferry queues on both sides of the Minch, and particularly for Barra.”

NHS Western Isles decided to offer a COVID-19 test to all individuals identified by Test and Protect as close contacts of positive cases on Barra.  This will help the NHS to identify, as early as possible, positive cases within the community and the spread of virus that has already occurred. 

Those who are identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate immediately for 10 days from the date of their last contact with the positive individual, in line with what is explained to them by the NHS Western Isles Test and Protect Team. 

And NHS Western Isles encouraged those on Barra and Vatersay to only shop when necessary and avoid regular trips for grocery shopping at this time and, in particular, avoid daily trips to the supermarket.  The Co-op store in Castlebay has introduced a number of measures to keep shoppers safe during the current outbreak.

All this happened as the number of Covid infections across Scotland continued to rise. Shetland recorded four more cases over the previous 24 hours bringing the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases there since the start of the pandemic to 189.

A new case of COVID-19 was also recorded in Orkney. The number of test-positive cases in Orkney since the start of the pandemic in March now stands at 46.

Across Scotland 2,160 new cases were reported, as have 61 deaths of patients who have tested positive. There are currently 1,860 people in hospital.

There were 34,932 new tests for COVID-19 that reported results.

Of these, 7.5% were positive, a significant decline.

A total of 141 people were in intensive care with recently confirmed COVID-19 and 224,840 people have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination while 3,331 have received their second dose