08 April 2020
Today I want to give you an update on some of the critical work that has been happening, behind the scenes, to ensure that we are prepared - as far as possible - for the continued impact of coronavirus on our community.
I particularly want to address the situation regarding the supply of PPE – that’s Personal Protective Equipment – available to our frontline workers in Health Care, and across Island services.
There have been reports in the media saying that frontline staff don’t have access to the PPE they need.
I want to be absolutely frank in saying this is not the case.
The protection of our frontline health workers, who are saving lives on a daily basis, is an absolute priority.
We have made a substantial investment in PPE, and the first pallets of an increased stock of supplies arrived on the Island earlier this week.
We have already begun distributing those supplies and more are on the way.
On behalf of all organisations who require PPE, we’ve set up a PPE Coordination Group.
Working with Health and Community Services, they will coordinate an island-wide approach to assure an appropriate supply of PPE is available to all those who need that equipment to carry out their role.
And I stress the word appropriate, as not all workers need the same equipment.
The group will manage the demands on our supply, including prioritising the distribution of equipment, with advice provided by a specialist risk stratification group made up of clinical and logistic experts.
This will ensure PPE is issued to island-wide organisations within a scope approved by Government to control the risk and spread of infection in the community.
As of today we have had 170 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Jersey, 1322 negative results and we are awaiting the results of 142 tests.
16 islanders are currently being treated in hospital with a very small number receiving intensive care treatment.
We will not be releasing the number in ITU as it risks breaching patient confidentiality.
Earlier today, Ministers received a report from officials on the impact of our restrictive measures on the Island’s infection curve.
The latest statistical modelling will be released tomorrow, but I want to say now that our progress is good, and indicates the measures we have implemented so far are working.
But, I must emphasise that we are at an incredibly early stage and a steepening of the curve may yet take place.
Tomorrow we will publish that data, and it will be available to all of you on our website.
While we are making positive progress in the management of the virus, thanks to the cooperation and goodwill of Islanders, we know that, sadly, more peple will die.
We have set up a new group which includes representatives from across the Government, States of Jersey Police, the Deputy Viscount, the Superintendent Registrar, faith groups and the islands’ funeral directors.
Their work will ensure that we are suitability prepared for an increase in the number of deaths, and that any Islander will be treated with the upmost care and dignity whilst at rest.
We are also preparing to provide additional mortuary space, if required, as part of the Island’s contingency plans for dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.
This facility, which we are calling ‘The Sanctum’ will only to be used if Jersey’s existing mortuary space is not sufficient.
Due to social distancing restrictions and to protect all islanders, we have also taken the unfortunate step to limit the number of mourners attending funerals.
I know that losing a loved one is a profoundly distressing experience and funerals are an important and personal way of mourning.
But, during this very difficult time, our aim is to protect the most vulnerable from the spread of coronavirus.
Therefore, as we have previously stated, only small funeral services are permitted of up to 10 close family members, and they can only be attended by those family members who are not in isolation, or not required to self-isolate as a result of the death.
There is a final, hugely important point I want to make.
This period of lockdown has increased the vulnerability of certain adults and children who are confined to their home environment and at an increased risk of abuse.
And it makes it harder for those at risk to access support services and seek help.
Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility The community must work together during our time staying home to protect and look out for vulnerable adults, children and families.
We need to keep them safe and in sight, as invisibility increases vulnerability.
Family members, neighbours and friends should have the courage to make a call to one of our services if in doubt, to secure the best advice Please don’t assume someone else will make the call.
If you suspect abuse, please report it. In these challenging times, it is everyone’s responsibility to support and protect the vulnerable.
Over this weekend we will continue to provide you with updates on our testing, our wider healthcare preparations and the steps we are taking to protect Islanders and prepare for an increase in the number of those suffering from the virus.
I want to provide you with more information that will help you understand the impact of the restrictive steps we have already taken, to reduce the spread of coronavirus in our community.
From next week, that will include the number of patients treated who have recovered from COVID-19.
I know Islanders have been asking for these statistics, and I hope they will help Islanders gain a better understanding of the Island-wide picture.
This picture will be further supplemented as we begin island-wide antibody testing, later in the month. We'll be making some further announcements on that shortly.
Thank you for taking the time to listen.
I know some of what I've said will be difficult to hear.
But, please continue to follow the stay at home instructions.
By doing so, you are making a real difference and saving lives.