Two independent care homes have reported a number of Covid-19 cases among residents and staff.

A total of seven residents in Castle Gardens Care Home and 12 residents in Kintryre House Care Home in Invergordon have tested positive for the virus.

Some staff members at each care home have also been confirmed positive with Covid-19.

It comes as health boards across the country have appealed to the public to adhere to coronavirus regulations to prevent the spread - particularly in the knowledge of the new strain's high rate of infection.

NHS Highland has confirmed that the health board's Public Health Team are working with health and social care colleagues, as well as local community nursing teams and local General Practitioners in Invergordon, to support the care homes and prevent any further spread of coronavirus within the care homes and the wider community.

Every member of staff who has tested positive has been asked to self-isolate as per national guidance. 

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Meanwhile, infection control measures have been reinforced in the the care homes.

An NHS Highland support team has also been made available to assist the owners of the homes to provide adequate levels of care while their own staff are isolating at home.

Elisabeth Smart, NHS Highland Consultant in Public Health, said: “Unfortunately, we have seen from other parts of the country that when infection levels rise in the wider community that infection can spread into care homes.

“This local outbreak is clear evidence of how serious the present situation is for the Highlands as a whole. 

"The number of cases of COVID-19 has increased significantly since Christmas and we all have a role to play to protect the most vulnerable members of our families and our communities.

“Please adhere to the regulations and guidance and minimise your contact with others. 

“The measures that have been put in place will ensure that the outbreak is as contained as possible and we will continue to support both care homes until this outbreak is over and all those affected are no longer infectious.

“The key public health messages are to stay at home and only leave the house for essential purposes.  If you, or someone you live with, develops symptoms then adhere to the national advice and stay at home.

“You can contact 111 if you are concerned about your condition or your symptoms worsen.”