PEOPLE in Dingwall were yesterday coming to terms with the shock of a serious outbreak of the coronavirus at the heart of the community.
What had seemed a still distant threat struck home with at least 12 cases of the virus having already been identified in a town with a population of just 6,000, with health chiefs warning that the numbers are likely to rise.
It is one of the most serious outbreaks of the disease to hit a town of such a size in Scotland.
NHS Highland said it was aware of “a small cluster of positive Covid-19 cases” linked to the Legion, Oscars and the Mallard pubs in Dingwall.
But the use of term “small cluster”, while obviously intended not to cause excessive alarm, has failed to reduce a rising level of anxiety over the number of cases identified, and the likelihood that there will be more to come.
Our Ross-shire correspondent writes: Dingwall residents have been shaken to the core by the revelation that 12 people who’d visited pubs in the town have been confirmed as carrying coronavirus.
In the county town of Ross and Cromarty local people were shocked to learn that coronavirus was in their midst. Like the rest of the UK and the world the townsfolk of Dingwall had been attempting to come to terms with the seemingly unstoppable march of the pandemic.
However, their fairly remote geographical location did seem to provide them with what was considered to be a measure of safety – a “distance barrier”. Cases were being identified further south and although deeply worried about the pandemic there was a sense that as long as people observed the no travel regulations there was a chance that small Highland communities could remain safe.
But it’s become increasingly clear that even small communities in the Highlands areas can quickly succumb to its affects.
An obviously agitated elderly woman in a shop in the town perhaps summed-up the feelings of many when she said: “It really is terrifying. It moves at such speed and seems to be incredibly mobile.
“Normal illnesses are understood, what they are, where they come from, what causes them and how they spread,” she said. “You visit your doctor locally, get a diagnosis and more often than not a medication is prescribed to take care of it.
“But the coronavirus is terrifying because it transmits so easily and sort of creeps up on people apparently out of nowhere,” she added. “That is truly frightening.”
A man in his mid-50s shopping in Dingwall and currently working from home said: “In recent weeks I’ve been becoming increasingly nervous about going out. News that cases of coronavirus have been confirmed locally is horrifying.
“It really has set me back. It’s just so stressful. The strain of not knowing if things will ever get back to normal is draining the life out of me.”
NHS Highland’s Health Protection Team is now carrying out contact tracing and investigations are ongoing in conjunction with Highland Council’s Environmental Health Team.
A spokesman said: “We would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that we are seeing an increase in cases across Highland and so everyone should continue to adhere to physical distancing guidelines, wear a face-covering when in enclosed spaces, clean your hands and surfaces regularly and immediately self-isolate and seek a test if you develop symptoms.”