Local farmers union launches petition on Covid testing for people travelling to isles

THE LOCAL branch of the National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS) has stepped up its campaign for coronavirus testing of people travelling into Shetland by starting an online petition.

It has also offered suggestions as to how such a scheme could work.

The petition comes after local committee president Cecil Eunson said last week that “everyone travelling should be tested to keep everyone here safe and healthy”.

He added that all livestock is tested and quarantined coming into Shetland on health and welfare grounds and asked “why is this not the case for people?”

Shetland NFU president Cecil Eunson. Photo: Shetland NewsNFU branch president Cecil Eunson.

The online petition calls on Shetland Islands Council, NHS Shetland and the Scottish Government to work together to introduce a system of voluntary testing and isolation for people arriving in Shetland.

The Scottish Government is the only one of these organisations which can impose such measures, and it has already received correspondence on the matter from all three of the Northern Isles’ politicians.

“This system is urgently needed to enable early identification of Covid-19 infection in people arriving in Shetland and to reduce the risk of introduction and spread of Covid-19 to the Shetland community,” the petition says.

“This will reduce the pressure on the Shetland NHS services and help protect the Shetland community from Covid-19 infections. It could also help protect the Shetland community from the introduction to Shetland of newly emerging variants of the Covid-19 virus.”

Among the NFUS branch’s suggestions is all travellers arriving into Shetland completing a form chronicling their travel history in the preceding fortnight.

It suggests people should either produce a certificate showing a negative test result within 72 hours of their departure, or to take a test on arrival in Shetland.

The petition suggests if the first test is negative then there could be a voluntary period of isolating. A second test should be carried out between day five and seven in Shetland, it suggests, and if this negative the isolation period can end.

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart previously backed the NFUS call, adding that it was frustrating to still be waiting for a response from the Scottish Government following the Northern Isles’ politicians’ letter on the matter in December.

“Throughout the pandemic we have seen that acting decisively and early leads to better outcomes,” she said. “This needs urgently addressed.”

When questioned on the calls to consider entry point testing in Shetland and Orkney the Scottish Government told Shetland News that the safest way to stop the spread of the virus was to stay at home as much as possible.

Earlier today another three confirmed cases of coronavirus were recorded.

Shetland News