Covid update: ‘Cluster still has potential to require a heightened response’

The Chief Minister, Howard Quayle, has made a statement in the House of Keys today, to update members and the public on the current situation in respect of the latest Coronavirus cluster to affect the Island.

He said it was believed the cluster was contained, but it still had the potential to require a ‘heightened response’.Mr Quayle continued: “As of this morning, there are 25 local cases involved in the current cluster. Since last Wednesday, contact tracing has identified and isolated 173 close contacts people, all have been offered swabs and the majority have accepted. All are in self- isolation.

“As Honourable Members will recall, those who choose not to undertake testing are required to isolate for 21 days. Yesterday, there were 307 tests undertaken with a large number related to Java Express. No positive tests were returned in respect of those premises. These initial results are encouraging and will help to inform the next steps. I would like to thank Java Express, their staff and all those members of the public who came forward in response to our appeal for their sense of social responsibility and in helping to keep our Island safe.

“Government’s approach throughout the pandemic has been to follow the science and data available to inform cautious but decisive action to protect our community and our healthcare system. This continues to be what guides us.

“The January Circuit Breaker worked as intended. It was a last resort not taken lightly. I know it was hard and I sincerely hope that we can continue to keep the virus at bay. But we are prepared to act should we need to.

“We have reflected on the actions taken to ensure that learning is captured and we continue to refine the approach.

“This means that should we need to introduce restrictions again due to evidence of the emergence of cases that cannot be traced back to travel, we will be able to do so quickly, minimising as far as possible the impacts on society.

“I know that everyone is looking to the future with a sense of hope that the restrictions at our borders can be lifted and we can move to a proper sense of normality.

“The key to allowing this to happen is of course our vaccination programme. As of yesterday, we have now administered a total of 17,999 vaccinations of which 4,953 were second doses and we remain on track with our rollout.

“Our four guiding principles have served us well so far and Council has recently agreed to add a fifth – to protect the rollout of the Vaccination Programme.

“As Hon Members will know we have been working on our overall exit framework and we are in the final stages of taking on board inputs including reflecting on the UK’s announcements of yesterday, ahead of releasing the first draft later this month. This is the beginning of an important stage in our journey through this pandemic and I look forward to sharing the plan with the public in due course.

“Clearly, this can only be a guide given that there remains so many unknowns but the path to take us to normality is clearer now than it has been since the pandemic started and time will give more certainty on what measures can be loosened and when, whilst continuing to keep our community safe.

“In the meantime, I will of course keep Members and the public updated on any developments with the current cluster of cases.

“I’d like to close by expressing my thanks to Members for their contributions over the last few days and weeks and to the public for continuing to act in a way that is keeping our community safe.”