Covid Scotland: New record number of patients in hospital with virus
Both NHS and social care staff absences are at their highest since early January, and nursing union the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said staff are facing “heartbreaking” situations and having to make “compromises”.
Highland Council has closed several schools because of Covid, while Kingussie High School closed for all but S4 to S6 pupils.
Some 2,221 patients were reported in hospital with Covid on Tuesday, an all-time high.
It comes after 2,128 patients were reported in hospital with the virus on Monday, breaking the previous record of 2,053 set in January 2022.
Numbers of patients in intensive care remain low, at 29, a decrease on the figure of 31 reported on Monday.
Some 11,912 new cases were reported on Tuesday, alongside 37 deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test.
Many health boards say they are facing the most challenging conditions they have ever seen.
RCN Associate Director, Norman Provan, said nurses are facing “absolutely enormous” pressure in both NHS and social care, as they contend with high demand and staffing shortages.
Some 5,500 NHS staff absences were reported in the week to March 15, while five per cent of the social care workforce was absent.
“A lot of nurses are working incredibly hard and going home very stressed feeling that they are not able to give the quality of care that they would like to be able to give,” Mr Provan said.
He asked members of the public to keep wearing masks for the next couple of weeks to support health and social care.
“In some senses I think the public is becoming more complacent, because high levels of the population are now vaccinated and therefore if they do get Covid they’re less seriously unwell than they would have been before,” he said.
"They’re not actually thinking about the very high numbers of people in hospital and the impact that has on nurses’ ability to provide care for people.
“It can be incredibly, incredibly difficult for people who work under that pressure all the time.”
Covid-related staff absences are also hitting businesses, the Federation of Small Businesses said.
Policy chair Andrew McRae said: “Independent and local businesses generally have a strong relationship with their employees, and will want to protect their health as well as the health of their customers. But the scale of absences at the moment continues to cause difficulties for firms facing a host of other pressures.”
The Scottish Chambers of Commerce said businesses need to “adjust to living and working alongside Covid-19 in the way we already do with other viruses”, and that businesses know how to keep employees safe.