Patients with mild coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms are being reminded not to call NHS 24 if they are able to manage their symptoms at home.

Those who are unable to manage their symptoms, or if symptoms do not improve after seven days, should contact NHS24 on 111, day or night.

We are also urging local communities across the Western Isles: please do not call your GP or go to the surgery with regard to coronavirus.

This system provides patients with a straightforward dedicated route to clinical advice and support, as well as freeing up GP practices to treat and care for all non-coronavirus health conditions.

Under the new arrangement introduced at the end of March, callers to the 111 helpline will be assessed and, if necessary, transferred to a local community assessment hub. There are assessment hubs, staffed by local clinicians, in Lewis, Uist and Barra, to ensure patients get the best possible advice at the right time. You will receive directions to the Hub as appropriate.

Depending on their assessment, patients may be given advice over the telephone to help them continue self-isolating at home or be given an appointment to attend their local assessment centre for further treatment.

Where symptoms are managable and for people who have access to the internet, NHS Inform’s coronavirus webpage is still the fastest way for people to get the latest health advice and information.

There is also a free NHS 24 helpline for people without symptoms looking for general information on coronavirus - 0800 028 2816.

For patients who do not have any coronavirus symptoms (but need to see a doctor), they should continue to telephone their GP when open and not call NHS 24. In the out of hours period, when displaying symptoms other than coronavirus, you should only call 111 if you need urgent assessment and cannot wait until your GP is open.

And Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron has urged local people not to relax their guard in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Cameron said: “The hospitalisation of the prime minister and the continuing rise in the number of Covid-19 related deaths in Scotland reminds us that no-one should regard themselves as safe, whoever they are or wherever they live.

“Being resident in the Highlands and Islands, even in the most remote communities, does not confer protection. There is no cordon sanitaire lying between us and the rest of the country.

“The sun may be shining outside, but we must keep up our guard and continue to stringently follow the guidance from the Government.

”Stay home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.”