COVID-19 cluster orkney aalskere

Orkney based Aalskere which has been caught-up in a COVID-19 cluster. Photo-Kynde & Toft

Six cases of Covid-19 have now been confirmed in a cluster linked to the Orkney based fishing vessel Aalskere K.373.

NHS Orkney began contact-tracing after a member of the trawler’s crew tested positive.

Five of the cases were confirmed last Thursday, 13 August and the health board has now confirmed the sixth case on Friday, 14 August.

NHS Grampian and NHS Highland have also been contact-tracing due to the boat visiting Peterhead in Aberdeenshire and Scrabster in the Highlands.

The crewman who tested positive had visited Aberdeen while the trawler was in Peterhead. This visit, and the boat’s fishing trip, happened in the weeks before a cluster was confirmed in Aberdeen, and lockdown restrictions were reimposed.

The Aalskere’s owner Iain Harcus told BBC Radio Orkney said the crewman who went to Aberdeen was asked to take a test as a precaution and the positive result had come as a shock. All the crew are currently self-isolating in line with government guidance.

NHS Orkney’s director of public health, Louise Wilson, has asked islanders to follow all advice on preventing the spread of the infection.

She said: “We ask the Orkney community to continue following the physical distancing guidelines.

“Anyone who develops symptoms should self-isolate and contact NHS Orkney for a test.”

NHS Highland said it was “confident” the members of the crew took precautions when they visited Scrabster.

Director of public health, Dr Tim Allison, said: “NHS Highland is working closely with NHS Orkney in the context of the overall programme of test and protect in Scotland and we are addressing issues relating to local residents.

“We are aware that the fishing boat was at Scrabster and are confident that all the correct precautions were taken.”

The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation said Scotland’s whitefish fleet had continued to work through the coronavirus pandemic as a “key part of the food supply chain, continuing to supply quality Scottish fish to markets at home and abroad”.

Chief executive Elspeth Macdonald said: “In the recent cases linked to a fishing vessel, prompt action was taken by the vessel operators to minimise any further risks to public health, including liaison with the relevant authorities.”

Source: BBC Scotland

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Orkney based fishing vessel Aalskere caught-up in COVID-19 cluster

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