Caution urged as Covid cases rise

Oban Lorne RFC president and Covid coordinator Darrell Williams (right) alongside club secretary Murray Hamilton during last weekend's rugby restart day. Photograph: Stephen Lawson.

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NHS Highland is urging members of the public to remain cautious as cases of Covid-19 rise.

The warning came last week as people across Argyll and Bute began to enjoy their new freedoms with restrictions going beyond Level 0.

Sports clubs across the region have already felt the effect of the surge in cases.

Following its rugby restart day on Saturday, August 7, Oban Lorne RFC were forced to close down all activities for 10 days when several players returned positive PCR tests. Visiting players from Lochaber, Garnock and Mull were also affected.

Club president and Covid-19 coordinator Darrell Williams told us: ‘It’s disappointing but probably something we are going to have to learn to live with in the weeks and maybe months to come.

‘We have had great support from NHS Highland and Scottish Rugby over this and are following guidelines strictly. All our players are PCR tested before matches and training but we cannot control what is happening outside the confines of our own club.’

Last Saturday’s Central Scottish Premier Division match between Oban Saints and Drumchapel also had to be called off when it was discovered one of the Saints squad had Covid-19 symptoms.

Club secretary and Covid Officer David Buchanan said: ‘We were preparing to leave Station Square for the fixture when it became apparent that one of the players was unwell and was sent for a PCR test which subsequently proved positive.

‘We immediately contacted the match secretary of the Central Scottish AFL who instructed us not to travel and the match was called off.’

Saints were due to travel to take on Drumchapel PYM last night (Wednesday) and should have hosted St Patrick’s FP in Oban on Saturday but in accordance with Scottish FA and Central Scottish AFL guidance both these games have also been called off and the Central Scottish team have cancelled training this week.

All Saints players have been asked to take lateral flow tests and PCR tests if necessary.

Everyone at the club wishes the player, who has to isolate for 10 days, a speedy recovery and would also like to thank the three opponents for their understanding and good wishes.

The Oban side’s next fixture is now scheduled for Saturday, August 28.

Talking about the rise in cases Dr Tim Allison, director of Public Health for NHS Highland, said: ‘During the first week of August we had more than 400 cases which is quite a significant increase compared to previous weeks.

‘It has been a very challenging few months for everyone and it is right that the new found freedoms we now have should be enjoyed. However, with relaxing of the restrictions and schools about to go back we are expecting a further rise in cases.

‘I would make a plea that we all still remain vigilant over symptoms to ensure that these new found freedoms are not short lived.’

A number of care homes, businesses and events held in the NHS Highland area are also continuing to feel the impact of Covid.

Dr Allison added: ‘I am acutely aware that the majority of people will want to move forward and we can still do that. However, we need to be aware of what symptoms to look out for and, if you have them, the importance of isolating immediately and arranging for a PCR test.

‘Finally, I’d encourage everyone eligible to please come forward for their vaccine when invited. The programme in NHS Highland continues to do well with over 90 per cent of over-18s having received their first dose. The vaccine really is our way out of this pandemic and I hope when invited you do decide to get vaccinated.’

Typical symptoms of Covid-19  are a new continuous cough, a high temperature or fever and a loss of, or change in, normal 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, cold-like symptoms and diarrhoea and vomiting.