By Bill Heaney
How does one isolate or keep to the social distancing rules for Covid-19 inside a nuclear submarine on a six week patrol out of Faslane?
The Royal Navy won’t answer that question, but it has confirmed a number of personnel at its main base in the Gareloch have tested positive for Covid-19.
The navy would not say how many people had tested positive in the outbreak at the Faslane base but it said those who had were under medical supervision. Where and when they also didn’t say.
A number of others are self-isolating.
NHS Highland said the outbreak was responsible for an increase in positive cases reported by the health board on Friday.
It added that the outbreak had been contained on the site.
HM Naval Base Clyde, also known as Faslane, on Gareloch and Coulport on Loch Long, is in Argyll and Bute for local government purposes and NHS Highland for health matters. It is the navy’s base for nuclear submarines and hunter-killer submarines.
A Royal Navy spokeswoman told BBC Scotland said: “We can confirm that a number of personnel at HMNB Clyde have tested positive for Covid-19 and are under medical supervision.
“Personnel identified as having been in contact with those who have tested positive are self-isolating in line with established health guidelines.”
No community spread
Scottish government statistics show there were 98 cases recorded in the NHS Highland region – which includes Argyll and Bute – in the past 24 hours.
That is the health board’s biggest single day rise in cases since the pandemic began.
Meanwhile, more local figures show there were 96 cases recorded in Argyll and Bute in the same period.
NHS Highland’s director of public health, Dr Tim Allison, said the increase in cases was due to the Faslane outbreak, which was “contained” at the site.
Dr Allison said: “We understand that there are many interactions between this establishment and the local community.
“However, we would wish to emphasise that while there have been a small number of cases over recent months in people who work on the site and live locally, there are no cases in the wider community directly linked to this current outbreak.
“We also recognise that, over the last few weeks, the Helensburgh and Lomond locality [which is in Dumbarton constituency for Scottish Government purposes] has had a higher rate of infection than the rest of Argyll and Bute and we have been monitoring this closely.”