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Information and public services for the Island of Jersey

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

Ministers announce update to Omicron isolation policy

21 December 2021

Competent Authority Ministers have announced that all Direct Contacts of a person identified as positive with Omicron will no longer need to isolate. This follows advice from Public Health in discussion with the Scientific Technical Analytical Cell (STAC).

Those currently in isolation as a result of the previous policy have been contacted by the Contact Tracing team and told that it is safe to leave isolation immediately.

Last week, Ministers asked STAC to review the policy on Omicron Direct Contacts. The ten-day isolation period was intended as a short-term measure to slow the spread of the variant across the Island, but Public Health officials say the evidence no longer supports this policy and so have recommended the change to Ministers.

While contact tracing is important in reducing transmission, requiring isolation for direct contacts based on sampling of positive PCR tests only has a partial effect in Jersey.

All Direct Contacts will now be treated in the same way. They will be contacted with a date and time for their PCR test, and then be asked to take a daily Lateral Flow Test for 10 days.

Currently 15 positive Omicron cases have been identified in Jersey after sequencing in a UK lab. Not all positive PCR samples are sent off for sequencing and it takes approximately three days for a positive PCR sample to be sent to a UK lab and get a sequencing result back.

Public Health officials will now work with STAC to monitor cases, the severity of illness and the proportion of Omicron to Delta cases both in Jersey and elsewhere.

Deputy Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ivan Muscat, said: "Postponing a significant rise in cases has given us more time to vaccinate Islanders, which will limit the number of cases and reduce the severity of disease. 

"Getting vaccinated is the most important and potent tool at our disposal. Getting a booster as soon as you are eligible is the most important action an individual can take. 

"The current evidence is that the booster is 70 to 75% effective against infection from Omicron, and it is also very effective against Delta. If you haven't had your first dose yet it is not too late to start – in fact, it is even more important to take this opportunity to start your vaccination schedule if you haven't done so already. Approximately five billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have now been given world-wide

"Being up to date with your COVID-19 vaccination schedule will protect you, the community, and the capacity of both our health service and the hospital."

Chief Minister, Senator John le Fondré, said: "Following the advice from STAC and Public Health officials, Ministers have agreed to remove the need for Direct Contacts of an Omicron positive case to isolate for ten days. They will now be treated in the same way as Direct Contacts of other variants and will therefore be required to have a PCR test when they are contact traced, and then to continue with Lateral Flow Tests for 10 days.

"The best way Islanders can take action to protect themselves from ending up in the General Hospital is by getting vaccinated as soon as possible. This is what all the evidence from other countries shows us and it would be a shame to see young people hospitalised for a disease that we provide a free vaccine against.

"If you are not yet registered onto a free LFT programme, please get signed up as this is the best way to detect the virus in asymptomatic people who may be unknowingly spreading infection. If you are identified as a Direct Contact, please attend your PCR appointment and then take LFTs daily for 10 days."

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