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Information and public services for the Island of Jersey

L'înformâtion et les sèrvices publyis pouor I'Île dé Jèrri

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Statement from the Director General of HCS

16 March 2020


Good afternoon.

Thank you for your time today.

I’m Caroline Landon, Director General for Health and Community Services and I would like to introduce my colleagues Rose Naylor, our Chief Nurse and Patrick Armstrong our Medical Director.

Alongside me, and other senior colleagues, they are leading Jersey’s response to the developing coronavirus situation, ensuring our preparedness at a clinical and practical level, and that we are able to protect our Island’s most vulnerable residents.

We want to use this opportunity to keep you updated and informed on what’s happening within this fast-moving situation.

You will be aware, from advice issued over the weekend, that our main aim is to continue to ‘Flatten The Curve’ or ‘Flatten The Wave’ of the coronavirus epidemic.

It is essential that we do this if we are going to contain the spread of Coronavirus within the Island as far as possible.

Flattening the wave means – and you will be familiar with this by now – not seeking to stop the epidemic, because we can’t do that - but to stretch it out. 

Doing so will help, as far as possible, reduce demand on our hospital services and give us the best chance to save more lives.

In effect, we are attempting to ‘stretch out’ the duration of the virus on the Island, so that while the same number of Islanders may be infected,  we will be better placed to look after those who are seriously ill at any one time.

This will help us save more lives: fewer will suffer severe consequences or die

It can be easy to look at how coronavirus is progressing in other countries and wonder why we are not handling our preparations in a similar fashion.

The reason is that, compared to the UK, we are behind the curve and we can learn from this and prepare for it.

If we were to take proactive steps too early, for example requiring the compulsory isolation of certain age groups, then we risk fatigue setting in – meaning that Islanders will not observe restrictions when we most need them to.

I want to reassure Islanders that we’ve been preparing for this since the first cases in Wuhan, China.

We have stood up our Silver and Gold command, we are reviewing our business continuity plans on a daily basis, and we have our Coronavirus Hub at the Hospital live and staffed by medical experts.

I also want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to my GP colleagues. They have worked exceptionally hard over the weekend to contact patients, so that those aged over 80, and vulnerable people, can have a free check to ensure they are in the best possible health and have all the medicines they need.

We continue to review business day by day within Health and Community Services.

We are moving to preparedness for COVID-19 and we’d ask all patients to follow our advice as and when it is updated.

As the week progresses we will be changing appointments for islanders but we will make contact with you and let you know.

Today, we have temporarily closed our three Day Centres for the Over 65s, and our staff who run them are being re-deployed. The League of Friends and Thyme Out café are also closed.

We are also reviewing all our appointments for the over 65’s to see if they need to attend the hospital or could be managed differently. Specifically, we would ask that people over 65 feeling unwell should not visit any of our health premises, except in emergencies.

If, as the week progresses, this changes then we’ll make contact and let you know.

Regarding travel, we’d reassure islanders that travel to the UK for medical purposes is currently classed as essential travel and therefore, these journeys, and medical transfers, are not affected.

I am confident that we can respond as a compassionate and supportive island community and we can save more lives.

This is where you can help us.

We need all Islanders to be sensible and responsible and follow the advice issued by the Government of Jersey over the weekend.

We need islanders aged 65 and over to actively practice social distancing. This is the single most important thing everyone can do to help us deal with the days ahead. Everyone has a part to play whether they are over or under 65,. We all need to support the most vulnerable in our society. This is really important. This will save lives. We cannot stress this enough.

You can make a huge difference.

We need those who haven’t been to an affected country, but may be exhibiting signs of flu, to self-isolate for at least 7 days after these symptoms end. Please do not call the helpline in this situation unless your health severely worsens.

And we need you all to remain calm, practice good self-care and prioritise your mental health. This is a worrying situation for many, and speculating on social media or other forums will only raise anxiety.

As was announced this morning, we have five positive cases of coronavirus in Jersey.

We know that the patients are all well and are self-isolating at home. They have all returned from an affected country and, as far as we are aware at this time, there is no case of transmission within the Island.

As I said earlier, this is a fast moving situation and we will endeavour to ensure the media and public are supplied with as much information and advice that we can provide, but only based on the appropriate medical evidence.

We will continue to base all our decisions on the most up to date modelling available. Our approach to the coronavirus pandemic is and must remain health-led.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to this statement. My colleagues Rose and Patrick will now take your questions.

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