The ferry serving the route across the Sound of Barra was brought to a halt yesterday (Thursday 21 January), after a crew member tested positive for Covid-19.

MV Loch Alainn was taken from the route while the vessel had a complete crew change and a full deep clean. She’s due to return to service with the delayed 11.10am, now due to cross from Ardmhor at 1pm today.

The suspension of the ferry service meant further contingencies were needed for the transport of the continuing programme of test samples.

Coastguard helicopter R948, which was already tasked to transfer a patient from Barra to Raigmore in a Covid-related case, was also detailed to collect the samples and return them to Stornoway. The samples were landed at Stornoway airport at 5pm. 

Posting on social media, Barra and Vatersay Covid Forum said: “This situation has highlighted just how vulnerable our island is. With a number of individuals testing positive who work within our life line services, the reality is clear.

“Our island depends heavily on these services and individuals, and without immediate action, one virus had the potential to cause catastrophe.

“It is imperative that you all continue to follow Scottish Government guidelines. This virus does not disappear after an initial outbreak. Please follow these rules. Keep safely home for now – that is the key to suppressing this outbreak.”

Meanwhile the delayed return crossing of the Sound of Barra ferry from Eriskay has been turned to advantage as Coastguard teams transport food parcels from Stornoway to Barra today (Friday).

Two Coastguard vehicles with trailers departed Stornoway at 7am this morning, taking food supplies on behalf of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar as part of the Covid response.

They’re due to be landed at Ardmhor at 2.45pm, from where Barra Coastguard Rescue Team will transport them by road for distribution among self-isolating individuals.