13 March 2020
The Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré, and the Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf, released the following statement following yesterday’s meeting of the emergency council.
Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré, said:
So, as you all know, yesterday afternoon I chaired the Emergencies Council.
I made clear at that meeting, and repeat now, that my overarching priority is the health of all Islanders, especially the most vulnerable, and that we take steps appropriate for Jersey, backed by expert medical advice.
I also want to clarify our travel advice and its restrictions.
We have been advised by the Deputy Medical Officer for Health, Dr Ivan Muscat, that the Island does not need to be locked down at present, and we need to enable Islanders to retain normal life activities.
If Islanders want to travel they should only do so under FCO guidance - as is currently the case in the UK.
Now, looking to the immediate situation, I believe we are in a good position because of the planning that has been taking place to date.
And yesterday we made further decisions that will reduce the spread of coronavirus in Jersey and those were discussed this morning in the Council of Ministers.
I have asked competent authorities and relevant ministers to make arrangements from these decisions and they will provide detailed advice to Islanders in due course.
Our approach is health led and we will be allocating new and extra funding when the medical advice is that it will work to reduce the spread of the virus.
Our focus, under the most up-to-date advice from Dr Muscat, is to do everything possible to protect Jersey’s most vulnerable.
We have agreed that for all government employees, as we elaborated yesterday, all non-essential business travel will be suspended for the foreseeable future. This includes teachers and so school trips will be cancelled in the immediate future.
Now, it is likely that we will need to make further decisions about school and colleges remaining open and at present, schools and colleges will remain open. But it is likely that we will need to review these arrangements over the next short period.
Any decision will be based on the necessary health advice. We are not at the same stage as the UK or Ireland and so our response to closures will be different at this time.
Large scale events and public gatherings are under review and may need to be postponed. This will depend on the nature of the event and its participants.
Now, I understand that this may be disappointing for some, but I am firm in my commitment to protect the most vulnerable based on medical advice.
You will hear from the Minister for Health and Community Services on our programme for GPs and primary care to offer bespoke advice to the over 80s and those with chronic illnesses and this will impact over 17,000 Islanders and begins today.
The Minister for Economic Development, with the support of the Social Security Minister and the Treasury Minister, has announced a series of measures to mitigate the impact of coronavirus on the Island economy.
These include deferring the payment of social security contributions, the deferral of GST payments; and payment deferrals where the Government is a landlord to local business.
I am leading the cross-Government approach to this virus.
Making sure that Islanders are supported by all departments and have the correct information, backed by sound medical advice, in order to carry on their daily lives with as little undue interruption as possible.
We have addressed Council of Ministers this morning and have update members today. I will chair the Emergencies Council again next week and we will update Members on the outcome of that meeting.”
Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf, said:
“The Government has approved extra funding for a bespoke service that seeks to protect the most vulnerable in our community. By targeting these Islanders with tailored advice and treatment, we are working to slow the spread of coronavirus, effectively flattening the curve of cases and containing the virus.
So, from today – as the Chief Minister has stated - GPs will be contacting Islanders over the age of 80 and those with chronic diseases, and that accounts for 17,000 Islanders. There will be no charge to those Islanders.
GPs will be calling these Islanders to individually review their support network, their medication, their overall health and their access to food supplies, and their understanding of hand and respiratory hygiene.
Those Islanders with a chronic disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, chronic heart disease, and diabetes) will also be assessed on their current symptoms and their medication.
GPs will then be providing patient-specific advice on how they can amend their daily routines in order to keep them safer from contracting the virus. GPs will then maintain regular contact with these patients to monitor their health and provisions, making advice and amending their routine based on the best medical knowledge.
Some patients may be advised to limit their contact with relatives who have cold or flu symptoms, and some may need to cancel their participation in community events.
But this is not a curfew. They may still need, and be able to, visit the shops and spend time outside their houses.
This may be an inconvenience for some Islanders, but our approach is health focused and all our advice will be based on the most up to date medical information."