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Public in Highland encouraged to step-up efforts in fight against COVID-19

8th January 2021

NHS Highland is appealing to local communities across Highland, Argyll and Bute to increase their efforts in the fight against COVID-19 during 2021.

There has been a significant increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases across the NHS Highland board area over the last two weeks.

There have been more than 700 cases since Christmas Eve and so we are encouraging people to continue to follow national guidance on social distancing, self-isolation and mixing indoors.

Dr Ken Oates, NHS Highland Public Health Consultant, said: "Firstly, thank you so much for all your support so far. We recognise that 2020 was an extremely challenging year for everyone and that we all have made significant sacrifices to reduce the spread of COVID-19 cases as much as possible.

“Unfortunately, there has been a significant increase in case numbers across Highland in the last two weeks, particularly in Inverness, Beauly, Dingwall, Invergordon, Alness and Caithness.

“We believe that this is due to pre-Christmas socialising, combined with people mixing indoors over the festive period. This has led to many extended family clusters and we would once again encourage people not to mix with others outside your household, as this is driving up infection rates.

“Please adhere to the new national guidance issued earlier this week to stay at home. We appreciate how challenging this has been for many people, however when the number of cases of COVID-19 rises in our communities, we inevitably also see an increase in positive cases in health care workers and care home staff. This has a detrimental effect on NHS services as well as the health and wellbeing of some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

“We must all take action to protect each other and the NHS across Highland, Argyll and Bute. Please continue to follow the national guidance on COVID-19 including isolating at home if you feel unwell in any way, and seeking a COVID-19 test.

“COVID-19 will spread rapidly if given the opportunity, especially with the new strain which spreads much more easily. We are asking that everyone thinks about the risks that are involved in increasing the number of people you come into contact with and to please follow the rules to help us in reducing the spread of the virus."

The typical symptoms of COVID-19 are:

• a new continuous cough and/or

• a high temperature or fever

• a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)

However, people with COVID-19 can present with a wide range of symptoms including headache, sore muscles and joints, tiredness, sore throat and cold-like symptoms. Anyone that becomes unwell should isolate immediately and seek a test.