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Three coronavirus cases treated at Caithness General Hospital in past fortnight

By Alan Hendry

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Three cases of confirmed Covid-19 have been treated at Caithness General Hospital over the past two weeks, the John O'Groat Journal has learned.

A fourth patient suspected to have coronavirus was transferred to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness. It is thought that at least one more patient at Caithness General could have the virus.

The latest figures issued by the Scottish Government on Monday showed that 102 positive cases of coronavirus had been recorded in the NHS Highland area, although the true figure is likely to be higher.

NHS Highland does not disclose details about the number of confirmed cases in specific locations within its area, which is the largest of any health board in the UK and stretches from Caithness to Kintyre.

However, a source working in healthcare locally revealed that staff are deeply concerned that some members of the public in Caithness may be failing to take the coronavirus threat seriously enough.

The source also alleged that NHS Highland staff have been threatened with disciplinary action if they reveal information relating to local case numbers publicly. However, this claim has been denied by NHS Highland.

Of the three confirmed cases said to have been treated at the Wick hospital within the past fortnight, two are believed to have been taken in as emergency admissions.

One of our major worries is that the public do not take the threat seriously enough.

None of the three cases had any apparent links to each other, it is said. This would point towards the existence of "community transmission".

The source said: "We are resilient and we will be there for the people of Caithness. One of our major worries is that the public do not take the threat seriously enough.

"Covid-19 is here and community transmission is here. To protect your community and NHS staff you need to follow national guidance about isolation and hand-washing."

NHS Highland serves around 320,000 people and its estate covers 32,500 square kilometres – almost equivalent to the size of Wales and Northern Ireland combined, with facilities extending from Thurso in the north to Campbeltown in the south.

A spokesperson for NHS Highland said: "We are following national guidance and due to reasons of patient confidentiality we will not make public where in Highland the positive cases are. The number of confirmed cases, broken down by health board area, is issued daily by the Scottish Government each day at 2pm.

"The number of cases fluctuates each day across the NHS Highland geography.

"Staff have not been threatened with disciplinary action.

"We would like to acknowledge that our staff are very busy at this time and would appreciate that everyone remember that they have a job to do.

"Any questions on cases within the area should be directed to the NHS Highland press office or check the national figures which are published daily."

The figures posted by the Scottish Government on Monday showed that the 102 positive cases in the NHS Highland area were among 3961 in Scotland as a whole.

A total of 222 patients in Scotland who tested positive have died, according to the latest figures.

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