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Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant calls for 'urgent answers' following 'significant' outbreak of Covid-19 coronavirus at care home on Skye

By Philip Murray

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Rhoda Grant MSP (file image).
Rhoda Grant MSP (file image).

URGENT answers are needed over contact tracing on Skye and why Covid-19 was able to spread "so quickly and to so many" staff and residents at a care home, an MSP has said.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, said she is urgently seeking answers from NHS Highland about the outbreak of coronavirus at the Home Farm care home in Portree.

Her call came after NHS Highland and Highland Council issued a joint statement yesterday to confirm a "significant number" of staff and residents had been affected at the home following news of the outbreak on Thursday.

Although no specific figure has been revealed, the number of people confirmed as having Covid-19 in the NHS Highland area has jumped sharply in recent days.

It rose from 242 confirmed cases on Thursday to 288 on Saturday – an increase of almost a fifth in just 48 hours. And it rose a further nine when Sunday's update was given. It is not known how many of those cases might be at the care home or in the wider Highland community.

Mrs Grant said she had contacted NHS Highland as early as March 26 after a constituent, who had relatives in a care home, asked about the general protocol if residents were to be kept out of hospital and have appropriate treatment as well as palliative care where required.

Questions were asked about protective equipment, oxygen and other necessary supplies for care homes, plus the recruitment of additional staff for care homes and particularly more staff qualified to deal with the health complications of the virus.

“I raised this because of people’s fear that an incident like this could happen and I am so distressed to see such a serious situation on Skye,” said Mrs Grant.

“There are urgent questions that need to be answered, including about testing and tracing on the island, especially with reports that a case of Covid-19 was previously found in Broadford.

“Why weren’t families, residents and staff informed and tested then and when it comes to Home Farm, why did the virus spread so quickly to so many and why was there not earlier mass testing?

“In the meantime, my thoughts are with staff and residents on Skye, both at the care home and in the wider community.”

Mrs Grant said she welcomed the fact that a mobile testing unit was being dispatched to the island and urged people to stick to the advice, to stay at home apart from the exceptions laid out in the regulations: daily exercise, shopping for necessities, animal welfare or medical need.

“Scottish Labour has pressed for a proper contingency plan for Scotland’s crisis hit care homes and an expansion of testing to the level advised by the WHO,” she added.

“This government cannot continue to let the most vulnerable in our society down.We must test, trace and isolate to stop this virus spreading.”

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