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NHS Highland redesigning services to minimise Covid-19 coronavirus risk; 'We can't be complacent with social distancing'

By Scott Maclennan

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NHS Highland medical director Dr Boyd Peters.
NHS Highland medical director Dr Boyd Peters.

NHS Highland medical director Dr Boyd Peters has warned the Covid-19 bug is likely to be a danger for at least a year.

Changes will be designed to allow elective care procedures to start again, after being halted to increase capacity to deal with the pandemic.

Dr Peters admitted the virus had not infected as many people in the Highlands as had been feared but he does not want people to be complacent.

“Lockdown is helping suppress the amount of virus in the community but it has not gone away,” he said.

“Covid-19 will therefore be among us until such time as everyone has developed immunity through catching it or through getting an effective vaccine.

“We believe that vaccines could be a year or more away so NHS services will need to be configured to ensure people can be looked after as usual but with safeguards in place to minimise the risk of catching the virus.

“Government and health boards are actively planning how they might achieve this and it is a vital part of the exit strategy required if lockdown is to be lifted.

“We need to be clear that there are still cases of Covid-19 in all parts of the Highlands but overall we are seeing a pattern of more cases in urbanised areas.

“We therefore cannot be complacent with social distancing because we know there are significant numbers of people who have little or few symptoms who, without lockdown, would pass it on to others unwittingly.

“We should all be acting as if we might have the virus, as if we might give it to other people, and we should also imagine that other people might have the virus and could potentially give it to us.

“We are planning actively to turn our elective care back on.”

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