08 July 2021
Yesterday the Emergencies Council met to review the Island's current public health position, the management of COVID-19 cases, and the continued impact of our vaccination programme and Safer Travel Policy.
Today, the Deputy Chief Minister will set out a simplification of that Safer Travel Policy; to provide additional clarity for visitors and Islanders returning to Jersey especially returning university students, and to bring the policy closer in line with our management of Direct Contacts.
Before he does so, I want to provide an update on the management of the virus, and to address the current trends we are seeing.
I know that there are some Islanders who will be feeling an increased level of concern as we ease restrictions and return to normality – especially those who are most vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19.
Those Islanders are foremost in our minds, and we are continuing to review and update our guidance for vulnerable people as the shape of the pandemic changes, both locally and internationally.
Over the past week we have seen a marked increase in the number of positive COVID cases in Jersey.
In previous waves, this would have been a cause for alarm, and many Islanders would have asked if a lockdown is imminent.
I want to reassure you: the circumstance are very different this time, and we are not locking down or announcing enhanced restrictions.
At present, we remain in a good position.
And this view is reflected by Dr Muscat, by his medical colleagues and by Public Health officials.
This is because of the continued success of our vaccination programme, our testing regime, and the vigilance of Islanders.
And this is not a blind reassurance. We continue to monitor the position in our community very closely.
Our testing rate remains significantly higher than other countries, including the United Kingdom.
Where they are testing, on average, 10,000 cases per 100,000 each week – including Lateral Flow Tests – we are testing 17,500 with PCR tests alone.
When you add in our Lateral Flow Tests, we are testing at a rate almost double that of the UK.
This means that we will naturally find more cases, because volume of tests undertaken.
Where we are seeing a rise in active cases, these are predominantly among those aged 12 to 30 years old.
Among this demographic, the effects of COVID are significantly less severe.
When we compare case positivity against the previous wave in December 2020, you will see that positivity among the older, double vaccinated, has significantly reduced.
Among those over 40 it is less than 2%, and in those aged over 60 it is less than 1%.
This shows that vaccination programme IS working and that it was targeted correctly to protect those most at risk.
As of today 82% of those aged over 18 have had a first dose of the vaccine, and over 63% have received a second dose.
Importantly 94% of those aged of 50 have received their second dose.
Most critically, hospitalisation remains low, at present.
Less than 0.5% of recorded COVID cases are resulting in a patient being admitted to the General Hospital
Of course, we want to keep this number as low as possible, and I send our best wishes to anyone who is being treated for COVID, and to their families.
Over the coming days and weeks, as we return to normality, and live with COVID, we will continue to monitor the situation on Island, and provide Islanders with updates on our situation.
The changes to the Safer Travel Policy are another positive step in our returning to normality.
And it is a new normal, where COVID is very much a part of our lives – present but manageable.
We will continue to keep in mind our overarching objectives of protecting those most at risk, and ensuring the continuity of our health service.
And we are always mindful that may need to act if the situation changes suddenly.
Ministers have already asked officials to review policies to ensure that if we consider there will be a significant impact on health services - or a rise in cases among our older and vulnerable population - that contingency plans are in place to act and protect Islanders.
Now, this weekend many Islanders will be glued to the Euro 2020 final as England have the first opportunity in 55 years to take home an international title.
If you are watching with friends, I want to encourage you to do so safely.
Please watch the match in the open air if you can.
Please maintain social distancing.
And if you are watching inside a public location, please use tracking apps, and maintain those enhanced hygiene measures. They are there to protect us all.
Dr Muscat is writing to all children, young people, and their teachers, thanking them for courage, hope, and understanding during the COVID pandemic.
He is right to do so. It has been a challenging period, especially for the youngest in our community.
I echo his thanks, to all our community and staff.