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Caithness health campaigner has misgivings over online data on Covid-19 cases


By Alan Hendry

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Caithness Health Action Team's Bill Fernie said he did not find the new online resource helpful.
Caithness Health Action Team's Bill Fernie said he did not find the new online resource helpful.

A local health campaigner has expressed misgivings about a new online resource giving statistics on confirmed cases of coronavirus in different parts of the Highlands.

Public Health Scotland’s interactive dashboard  provides a map showing the number of cases in specific Scottish "neighbourhoods" – including seven within Caithness – as well as trends for local authorities and NHS boards.

Bill Fernie, chairman of Caithness Health Action Team, has previously said it would be useful for the public if Covid-19 figures for different localities were published.

However, he does not believe that the Public Health Scotland dashboard, with its colour-coded map of Scotland and multiple sections, is the answer.

"I spent about 15 minutes and frankly did not feel it was helpful," Mr Fernie said. "There is so much data in many different places.

"I wanted to know all along whether or not there were many cases in different parts of the county. To date I still do not really have that."

The latest figures from Public Health Scotland cover the seven days from September 27 to October 3.

When there are fewer than five positive cases in an area, the actual number is not provided "to protect patient confidentiality".

On this basis, the dashboard shows there were between one and four positive cases in each of Caithness North East, Caithness South and Thurso West over the seven days. In that same period there were no positive cases in Caithness North West, Thurso East, Wick North or Wick South.

The dashboard allows the number of cases per 100,000 of population to be seen for different weeks.

It reports 53 positive cases in Highland during the latest seven-day period.

NHS Highland – covering an area from Caithness to Kintyre – has said since the start of the pandemic that it gives the number of confirmed cases on a region-wide basis due to patient confidentiality.

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