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

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COVID samples sequenced in UK laboratory

27 May 2021

Medical staff in Jersey have been continuing to send COVID-19 samples to a UK laboratory for sequencing, to monitor which variants are present in the Island. Recent results have found that a very small number of the 52 samples sent for sequencing are examples of the variant of concern B1.617.2 variant, which was first identified in India.

The very small number of cases stem from arrivals. The relevant individuals are well, had and continue to follow all the relevant guidance and are in isolation. Their welfare is being monitored by the Contact Tracing team, who maintain contact will all positive cases and all Direct Contacts.

Deputy Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ivan Muscat, said: "While this variant is more transmissible than other variants, Public Health England has said there is no evidence that it causes more severe disease, and studies show that the vaccines in use in Jersey and the UK are effective against it.

"Our vaccination programme, in conjunction with public health measures, regular testing, and contact tracing, remain key to controlling this virus. More than 50% of adults in Jersey are now fully vaccinated. This reduces their risk of contracting or passing on the COVID virus by some 80-90% depending on the specific variant. Adults who have had one dose of vaccine are also afforded some protection, but not to the same extent as those who have received two doses.

"This is why the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have advised that second dose vaccinations for those who are over 50 and in at-risk groups should be brought forward. Our vaccination programme is following this advice, and all Islanders over the age of 50 will have been offered a second dose by the end of May.

"Islanders are strongly encouraged to continue to adhere to public health guidelines, and anyone offered testing is strongly encouraged to be regularly tested for COVID-19."

The Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf, said: "We will continue to monitor the situation and send all positive samples to the UK for sequencing. Our response, as always, is constantly reviewed in light of any changes both in Jersey and in jurisdictions we have close connections with.

"From 28 May we will implement our emergency brake for 15 areas of the UK where this variant is more prominent, and this data will be checked twice a week. People arriving from these areas will need to adhere to our Red arrival classification, which requires three PCR tests and isolation until a negative day 10 result has been received.

"Alongside Public Health officers, we will continue to review the options for travel classifications and developments of the B1.617.2 variant."

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