30 out of 34 residents contract Covid-19 at Isle of Skye care home

4 May 2020, 16:56

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A second resident of an Isle of Skye care home that has seen almost all of its inhabitants contract Covid-19 has died.

A total of 30 out of 34 residents at Home Farm in Portree had contracted coronavirus as of Monday, including two who later died.

In addition, 27 out of the 52 staff have also tested positive for the illness.

The decision was made to deploy a military mobile testing unit to the island in order to help combat the outbreak.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes had previously said there is enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to safeguard the workers and residents in the home.

One resident at the Isle of Skye care home has died after testing positive for coronavirus
One resident at the Isle of Skye care home has died after testing positive for coronavirus. Picture: PA

A spokeswoman for Home Farm said: "Our thoughts and sympathies are with the family who has lost a loved one from coronavirus and we are doing our utmost to support them during this difficult time.

"We have a comprehensive coronavirus contingency plan in place, which was created by our clinical director and reflects the latest government guidance.

"We are working closely with our local health and care partners, and we have secured the medical equipment, PPE and supplies we need to protect residents and colleagues alike.

"Whilst a number of colleagues are away unwell or self-isolating, we have had the team members required to safely care for all residents with additional support being drawn from our other Scottish homes and the senior regional team."

Councillor John Gordon of the Highland Council, whose Covid-positive father resides in the home, told LBC News he was worried about what the outbreak would mean for the rest of the island's community, especially because of its smaller medical facilities.

Cllr John Gordon's father is living in the care home and has contracted Covid-19
Cllr John Gordon's father is living in the care home and has contracted Covid-19. Picture: PA

"The days and the weeks ahead are going to be concerning for us as islanders," he said.

"NHS Highland has said that the peak of this virus in the Highland will not happen until the end of May or beginning of June, so we need to protect ourselves."

He added: "Our thoughts and our prayers are with all the residents and their families at this time, to all the staff who are self-isolating who aren't well just now, or who still go to work."

Ms Forbes, who is also the island's MSP, said she had been told there were sufficient levels of PPE in the residency.

"It was one of my first questions and I was informed resolutely that, yes, there was sufficient PPE there," she said.

Ms Forbes also said contact tracing could be used on the island, due to its rural nature, to track the spread of the virus through residents.

"Skye, as a self-contained island community, shows the advantages of contact tracing and I think that contact tracing is going to be an important part of our capability on Skye in dealing with the outbreak," she said.

"That will form a vital part of NHS Highland's response, as you can see from that increased testing capacity and the way that they have already started to make contact, not just with those who have tested, but with their households as well."

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Ms Forbes added that some members of staff will have part-time jobs in the community alongside their work at the care home. She said this made contact tracing an "important" way to contain the spread of the virus.

Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman addressed the situation at the care home on Skye following the announcement of the Covid-19 outbreak on Sunday.

She said all residents had been isolated in their rooms while the local GP and advanced nurse practitioner undertake "medical assessments".

The Health Secretary said her "best thoughts and good wishes" went out to those who have tested positive at Home Farm and other care homes across the country.

Around 20,000 members of staff in health and social care have responded to the call to return to the respective sectors, Ms Freeman added.

Former Scottish Tory leader Baroness Goldie said the island's testing strategy should be designed to "absolutely ensure the safety of residents within the care home and try to ensure that not only are they being kept safe, but the risk of transmission into the home or out is minimised."