Arran Covid cases skyrocket as legal restrictions end

More people are out and about like this crowd attending a football match on Arran last weekend.

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By Colin Smeeton

Arran is fighting the biggest number of confirmed Covid cases since the pandemic began more than two years ago.

The latest official figures show there are 95 confirmed cases on Arran – the most ever seen on the island and it  just days before the ending of most legal restrictions which have been in place in Scotland for more than two years.


While the wearing of facemasks in shops and on public transport has been retained, until at least Monday April 14, when it will be guidance rather than a legal requirement, all other restriction ended last Monday.

Where the outbreaks are happening is difficult to pin down but there is much more movement between the island and mainland with both residents and visitors, while a lack of staff has resulted in several businesses having to close or reduce their working hours.

Schools on Arran are continuing to face difficulties with a high number of staff and pupil absenteeism due to Covid and isolating.

However, thanks to staff flexibility, and following recommended guidance and regular testing, schools and early learning facilities on Arran have not had to resort to remote learning, but conditions are being described as ‘challenging’.


In advice issued at the start of the week by the Scottish Government to Schools, professor Jason Leitch CBE, national clinical director said that the requirements for teachers to wear masks and physical distancing will change to more closely align with the protective measures that apply in wider society.

Professor Leitch also confirmed that from Monday April 18, schools and early learning centre staff and secondary pupils will no longer be tested as part of a regular asymptomatic testing programme.

Good hand hygiene and cleaning, awareness of social distancing, good ventilation and transport safety measures, he said, would be continued, as well as a surveillance programme to monitor outbreaks.

Figures from Public Health Scotland show that the number of infections on Arran is continuing to rise exponentially with 95 cases reported up to Friday March 18.

This is a huge leap from the 32 cases which were reported the week before on Friday March 11.

The surge in infections follows a similar pattern across the UK where Covid numbers are at their highest levels since the start of the pandemic.

Thankfully, despite the high infection numbers, people are far less ill with the latest Omicron variant which is believed to be far more transmissible, but which is seeing far fewer people admitted into intensive care units in hospitals.

The rise in infection rates on Arran has had an effect on Arran businesses with some of them having to temporarily close or restrict access to their premises.

Numerous businesses across the island have announced temporary closures on their social media pages.

Elsewhere on Arran, pubs, cafes and restaurants are enjoying a return to freedom and are no longer required to obtain contact details for customers.

The legal requirement for businesses, places of worship and service providers to take prevention measures, as set out in Covid guidance, also ended on Monday.

According to Public Health Scotland, 1,705,109 people have tested positive for Covid since the first positive case was recorded in Scotland at the end of February 2020.

 

More people are out and about like this crowd attending a football match on Arran last weekend. 01_B12football08