Latest Covid statistics show 349 cases in Caithness
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The number of Covid-19 cases in Caithness has shot up to 349 in the latest seven-day period recorded by Public Health Scotland.
The agency's first update of 2022 revealed that Thurso West had the highest number of positive tests among the seven Caithness neighbourhoods at 103 – giving it a seven-day rate per 100,000 population of 2251.4.
There were 71 cases in Caithness North West, 60 in Thurso East, 42 in Wick North, 28 in Wick South, 27 in Caithness North East and 18 in Caithness South, all based on tests between December 27 and January 2.
The statistics reflect the higher Covid numbers across the country linked to the spread of the Omicron variant.
Sutherland recorded 198 cases over the same period.
There were 82 in the Sutherland South neighbourhood, 76 in Sutherland East and 40 in Sutherland North and West.
Cases across the Highland local authority area during the latest seven-day period totalled 4044, with a seven-day rate per 100,000 population of 1717.7 for the region as a whole.
The eight Highland neighbourhoods with the highest seven-day rates from December 27 to January 2 were all in the Inverness area.
Public Health Scotland's interactive dashboard has a map giving the number of cases in individual neighbourhoods throughout Scotland. Most neighbourhoods have between 2500 and 6000 residents.
Earlier this week, secondary pupils were advised to take at-home Covid tests before returning to school to limit the spread of Omicron.
Those without symptoms were told to do a lateral flow device (LFD) test the night before or on the morning of the return to classes following the festive break. After that, testing should be done twice weekly.
All LFD test results – positive, negative or void – should be recorded via an online portal.
Staff in schools and early learning and childcare settings are asked to follow the same advice.
Anyone who receives a positive LFD test result, those with symptoms or those identified as close contacts should immediately self-isolate and book a PCR test.
Scotland's education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “It is our absolute priority to keep schools safely open and minimise further disruption to learning. To achieve that, we need the help of the whole school community.
"Taking lateral flow tests before returning to school, and continuing to test regularly, will help prevent outbreaks of the virus."
Scotland's chief medical officer, Professor Sir Gregor Smith, said: “With Omicron spreading so rapidly, it is vital that we all do what we can to limit its transmission. Rapid lateral flow testing helps us to find infectious cases that might otherwise have been missed, as around one in three people with Covid-19 does not show classic symptoms.
“That’s why it is really important that secondary pupils and school and early learning and childcare staff take lateral flow tests before they return to classes and settings after the break, and that they keep testing regularly throughout term.
“They should also take LFD tests before they meet up with others outside of school or ELC settings.
“Pupils and staff who are eligible for vaccination should get their jags and, where appropriate, boosters as soon as they can to receive greater protection from the virus.
“Those aged 12-15 are being offered second doses of the vaccine from this week and I would urge them to take up the offer. Drop-in sessions will be available for this age group from January 3, while those who have already been given a date for their second jag can call a helpline to bring their appointment forward and get protection from the virus earlier.”