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Chief Minister issues statement on testing for Covid-19

30 April 2020


The Chief Minister has issued the following statement:

Good evening.

I want to provide you with a short update on the critical work we’ve been undertaking on testing, to better understand the spread of Coronavirus in our community – and to assist in deciding how and when we take steps to ease lockdown.  

I’d like to start by setting out the daily results on our testing and healthcare capacity.

  • we have tested 2,801 samples for COVID-19
  • we have received 2,466 negative results and 286 positive results
  • of those with positive results, 42% are male and 58% are female
  • the average age of those who have tested positive is 54
  • the results of 49 tests are pending
  • 197 Islanders have now fully recovered from Coronavirus, having originally tested positive
  • of those who have recovered, 42% are male and 58% are female - their average age is 48.

70 Islanders are currently being treated in the General Hospital for a range of medical conditions. Of those, the number of Coronavirus patients is 9.
There are 127 beds currently available in the hospital, giving us an occupancy rate of 36%

The number of Islanders who have sadly died as a result of this pandemic is now 23.
Of those deaths, 12 were confirmed, through laboratory testing, as being COVID-19 deaths, and 11 were presumptive Coronavirus deaths.
A total of 13 deaths took place within hospital care – 11 in the General Hospital, and 2 in St Saviours Hospital.
Outside of the hospital setting, 9 deaths have occurred in Island care homes, and 1 within an individual’s own home.

38% of those who sadly died were female, and 62% were male.
1 of those who died was aged 50 to 59 years, 2 were aged 60 to 69, 7 were aged between 70 and 79, 7 were aged between 80 and 89 years, and 6 were aged over 90.

Testing for Covid-19

From Monday we will double our capacity to swab test Islanders, which shows whether you are currently carrying the virus. The most urgent test will be processed on Island in our own laboratory. We will reserve most of these tests for hospital admissions.
The remainder will be processed at Colindale, the laboratory we have been using in the UK until now.

We are working hard to continually increase our PCR testing capacity to an average of 500 tests a day, and I hope to be able to update you that we have secured this in the coming week.

The capacity for 500 tests a day will mean we can swab all Hospital in-patients; referrals from GPs and the health helpline; residents returning to care homes; and all symptomatic Islanders including our essential workers.

Tests will also be done proactively for health and care workers; ‘blue light’ personnel; prison and funeral directors; and where we find evidence of COVID in a care home we will have the capacity to test all staff and residents quickly, to try and detect and control clusters of cases.

With this new regime we expect to see an increase in confirmed positive cases. It is important that islanders understand that our statistical model already assumes that many unconfirmed cases exist.

More testing will allow us to identify the details of these cases. To ensure we actively follow up each positive case, our Environmental Health team have doubled their capacity and will continue to grow as needed in order to undertake proactive contact tracing.

This weekend we will also launch our COVD-19 community antibody testing programme.
Yesterday, we began contacting randomly selected households by letter and phone, inviting them to take part. This test measures the level of antibodies in our blood – which are produced when the body successfully fights a disease.

I urge all Islanders who receive a letter or a phone call to take part and help keep our community safe. Anyone who is contacted and would like to take part can book an appointment to have their first test between Saturday 2nd and Tuesday 5th May.

Testing will be available at three testing sites at accessible locations across the Island. These exact locations will be confirmed when the contact is made.

The test itself uses a drop of blood, which is taken with a small pin prick. Each person taking part will get their results in about 10 minutes and receive a factsheet explaining the result and what it means.

The tests are being conducted to help estimate the spread of COVID-19. The 500 households who take part, roughly 1500 Islanders, will be tested every four weeks.
This repeated testing will allow researchers to establish how the virus is moving through the community.

Results from the tests will be recorded into a database, then will be anonymised before sending to Statistics Jersey. The data will be used by Statistics Jersey to create an Island-wide picture of the COVID-19 spread, which will be publicly-available.

Current estimates suggest that the Stay Home and social distancing measures have been successful in stopping the spread of the virus, and we believe only a small percentage of islanders have been infected with COVID-19.

Lockdown measures

Community antibody testing will check our assumptions, and produce data that can be used to decide when the Island can begin to move through the phases of safely relaxing the current lockdown measures.

In a press conference tomorrow, I’ll be speaking in detail on this phased approach, which will provide a framework for us to begin safely moving towards a safe exit from lockdown.
That press conference will be available to watch on our social media channels, and will be broadcast on the radio through BBC Radio Jersey and Channel 103 at 2pm.

I would encourage you to tune-in, as we set out the plans for the next phase in tackling this crisis.

Thank you for taking the time to listen. I look forward to speaking to you again tomorrow.

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