by Colin Campbell
THE shock felt in Dingwall over a serious outbreak of coronavirus cases has been replicated elsewhere in the Highlands and in communities across Scotland with a drastic rise in the number of infections.
Nationally nearly 1,900 new cases were reported on Tuesday.
And in the Highlands 152 more cases were recorded over the Christmas period.
The current rate of infections in the North now stands at 50 per 100,000, up from 22 last week.
It is not yet known whether the new variant, which scientists say makes the virus much more easily transmissible, is a factor in the surge of infections.
But there has been speculation that it could have spread to this region already.
All public events linked to a traditional Highland Hogmanay having already been cancelled. The popular Red Hot Highland Fling party held annually at the Northern Meeting Park seems a world away. There will be nothing red hot about this turn of the year.
People are being warned not to venture out at all on Friday night or Saturday.
The stay at home Hogmanay message is likely be heeded by the vast majority of people.
Any illicit parties are certain to attract the attention of neighbours and most likely lead to police involvement as well.
And in the alarming circumstances those who do report party activity won’t be regarded as snoopers but as responsible citizens.
Those who plan an early night anyway will be acting wisely. And those who want to drink away the remnants of this horrible year and toast the arrival of 2021 will either have to do it on their own or in very limited domestic company.
The Highland and nationwide rise in infections also dashes hopes that the controversial three week tier 4 lockdown imposed on the Highlands will end in mid January.
The worst case but by no means unrealistic scenario is that it will stay in place for the foreseeable future.
Hogmanay has been wiped out. And as people in towns like Dingwall and other communities affected by the rapid spread of the disease will readily testify, it’s not in any way difficult to see why.