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Call for local coronavirus numbers to be given


By Gordon Calder

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A CALL was made today for the Scottish Government to reveal the number of coronavirus cases in the far north.

Bill Fernie, chairman of Caithness Health Action Team (Chat), said it would be useful if the figures for different areas within NHS Highland were published as it would encourage people to stay at home in line with government guidance.

The numbers of positive cases are reported on the basis of NHS Highland as a whole rather than for individual areas.

Bill Fernie of Caithness Health Action Team says releasing figures for areas such as Caithness 'would be the most sensible thing to do'. Picture: DGS
Bill Fernie of Caithness Health Action Team says releasing figures for areas such as Caithness 'would be the most sensible thing to do'. Picture: DGS

"I am aware of cases in Wick but not in other parts of Caithness, although I can't see that locally it would just be Wick that is affected – but there is nothing officially coming in about that," Mr Fernie said.

"If you don't put the figures out there, rumours start circulating and go round on social media. Putting the figures out for areas such as Caithness would be the most sensible thing to do.

"If you don't have proper information it will lead to rumour and speculation."

The latest figures issued by the Scottish Government today showed that 112 positive cases of coronavirus had been recorded in the NHS Highland area, although the true figure is likely to be higher.

Mr Fernie says it is important health and care staff have enough protective equipment when dealing with coronavirus cases and Chat is keen to see if there is anything its members can do to assist patients in hospital.

He also pointed out that Chat is putting its campaigning on hold at present. "We feel the health board has enough to be doing without dealing with a lobbying group at this time," he added.

NHS Highland says the number of confirmed cases are released on a Highland-wide basis due to "patient confidentiality".

That stance was backed by north MSP Gail Ross. She said: "The Covid-19 stats are health board wide because that is the way the reporting occurs – it is not unique to NHS Highland. It is the way they are reported all over the country.

"Local reporting would have the disadvantage of individuals possibly being identified and we should always be mindful of people’s right to privacy, especially in matters relating to their health."


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