07 December 2020
I remarked last Wednesday that because of the incubation period for COVID-19, we would continue to see cases rise and indeed it is still too early today to judge how effective the restrictions we brough in on Friday have been in mitigating the spread of the virus.
We have developed and implemented a proportionate response to Covid, viewing it alongside the other health impacts our restrictions could have in the short term, but also the loss of livelihoods and the subsequent despair of those affected in the long term. Both of these are my concern as Health Minister as not only does our Island’s strong economy allow for a strong health service, but also individual Islanders mental and physical health is supported through meaningful work.
The restrictions on hospitality and fitness businesses were imposed following specific cases and clusters forming in exactly these establishments. And that is not a general statement based on other jurisdictions, we know from our contact tracing exactly where the spread occurred here in Jersey, and we know it was cases and clusters that began in these establishments that affected the cases in schools and offices.
I want to again remind Islands that it is not always the fault of the business if they have had a cluster on their premises. Many, the overwhelming majority in fact, took great precautions and measures. But it is scientific fact that some environments are more conducive to the spread of Covid-19 and no matter what measures the businesses put in place, some cases have just slipped through and quickly spread.
From this weekend of closures, we have been encouraged by the low number of breaches and the overall high levels of compliance we are seeing in our community. If people stick to the rules and the guidance currently in place, then there will be no need to bring in further restrictions.
As of today, we have twenty-three people in the Hospital with COVID-19. The important word there is “with”. Because only three of those patients are in hospital seeking treatment because of coronavirus. The rise is cases we have seen in the General Hospital are from patients who are contained on the Covid wards and I want to continue to reassure Islanders that the hospital is safe, and they should be attending any appointments they have there.
I would also like to give further context around our ratio of identified cases to unidentified cases.
You may recall that, in March and April, we gave a figure of 1 in 10. Meaning that, at that time, for every positive case, we estimated a further ten which had gone unrecorded.
This figure was validated by our community antibody surveys and is comparable with WHO guidance and evidence from other jurisdictions.
Today, because of improvements to our testing capacity, we anticipate this figure to be closer to 1 in 5 and potentially even as low as 1 in 2.
This means that while we are seeing an increase in total case numbers, we’re also seeing a far better picture of the total spread of the virus within the Island community.
This is an improvement both compared to our position earlier in the year, and to other jurisdictions who test far less than we do.
Our average, the number of total tests per 100,000 people is currently around one thousand a day and this figure continues to climb. This is around twice as many as the UK are currently able to conduct and three times as many as France.
This means that we are able to see more of the positive cases than we previously could, and far more than other jurisdictions can see.
But we shouldn’t be complacent. We are seeing a rise in cases and we all need to act responsibly to keep our Island safe.