The Orkney Islands has the highest rate of Covid-19 in the UK.

Covid case rates are increasing in a third of UK local authority areas, with early signs that rates are once again on the rise among schoolchildren.

Schools on the islands have been dealing with outbreaks in the last week, with the hardest hit primary school, Papdale Primary School, reopening today.

The school closed its doors last week, as well as Papdale Nursery, which has partially opened today to a select number of pupils.

More than 50 pupils at the primary reported positive Covid cases last week, and eight members of staff.

The Herald: Covid-19 case rates in UK nations.Covid-19 case rates in UK nations.

On Thursday, just under 200 children were present in school.

Pupils were also on alert at Kirkwall Grammar School last week, after 12 positive cases were reported among pupils and two cases in staff. 

On Friday, the council's executive director of education, leisure and housing, James Wylie, stressed the need for the community to rally and step up all measures to keep everyone safe.

He said: “We are delighted that Papdale Primary School is now seeing a downward trend in the number of cases from its peak and contingency planning means that we are in a position as it stands to be able to reopen all classes again on Monday.

“We continue to meet daily and monitor the situation in all schools around Orkney. Please do all you can to adhere to the measures in place to keep everyone as safe as possible so we can all enjoy a reduction in the spread of this virus which is impacting on all walks of life.”

The Orkney Islands currently have the highest local rate anywhere in the UK. The figure, as of this weekend, stands at 696.4 per 100,000 – though this is based on 156 new cases in the most recent seven days.

The rate of new Covid cases for the entire country currently stands at 375.7 per 100,000 people, up week-on-week from 334.7.

It is the highest seven-day rate of new cases since September 26.

Most local areas in Scotland are recording an increase in rates, with only six out of 32 areas currently seeing a fall.

Areas experiencing a sharp jump in rates include Moray (up from 318.7 to 501.5), Perth & Kinross (306.8 to 479.2) and Dumfries & Galloway (394.5 to 529.4).