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Announcement from the Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf

01 February 2021

Thank you, Chief Minister.

I want to provide some further detail on the testing and tracing that followed a cluster being identified in our Island’s supply network last week.
Wide ranging screening and contact tracing work has been conducted since the 26th January, including logistics workforce, various retail workforce considered as direct contacts, targeted indirect contacts, as well as the wider essential retail workforce.

Currently, there have been no positive results from any of the indirect contacts tested. This situation will continue to be monitored, as it may yet change.

Of the individuals tested in the logistics chain, 5 further were positive in addition to the original 3 individuals identified, increasing the total positive cases to 8.

Contact tracing was undertaken for all positive cases; direct contacts were identified, isolated and tested. 2 direct contacts returned positive on 29 January; and their direct contacts are being traced.

To provide an additional layer of support, all of the retailers identified on the delivery routes have been offered COVID safe reviews and a number of these took place earlier today.

Whilst it is not possible to rule out further cases associated with the cluster, we are content that risks have been significantly mitigated due to the excellent work of the Test and Trace Team.  I want to thank them for their rapid work and continued dedication to this critical task.

Turning to our Vaccination Programme, the rate for the vaccine uptake among our most vulnerable Islanders is high and we have already exceeded our initial target. Our delivery rate is comparable to that of the UK and we are in a strong position.

We are operating at capacity based on the doses we have been receiving weekly, and our team has a great relationship with the UK and their operational teams, which has been a key part of our Programme’s success.
The vaccine team have been working around the clock to deliver first and second doses in a variety of settings, including residential homes, the vaccination centre and people’s homes via the mobile unit. 

The mobile unit team completed 680 visits to Islanders within their homes last week, with an additional 400 planned for this week.
The support in the community has been incredible – doctors and nurses have come out of retirement to join the vaccination team and our volunteers at the vaccination centre and St. John’s Ambulance have been working hard to make sure everyone is safe before, during and after their vaccine.

I want to thank every single one of the dedicated medical staff, volunteers and support staff who have made this success possible.

Your essential work is ensuring that those at greatest risk from the awful effects of COVID-19 are given the protection they need, as quickly and safely as possible.

Finally, I want to address changes to Care Home Visiting Guidance, which will come into effect from tomorrow.
The overarching aim of the Guidance is to support safe visiting.
Whilst a significant number of care home residents are fully vaccinated it is not yet known if this will prevent them transmitting COVID-19; so everyone must adhere to the guidance to help keep unvaccinated residents, staff and visitors safe.

Under the guidance, each resident can choose their named visitors. If the resident is fully vaccinated, they can have a maximum of two named visitors, who can visit up to twice a week, one visitor at a time.
If the resident is not fully vaccinated – a maximum of one named visitor can visit up to twice as week.

Any visitors to fully vaccinated residents must have monthly PCR tests, and visitors to non-vaccinated residents must have a PCR test no more than 72 hours before the visit.  

A resident is considered ‘fully vaccinated’ two weeks after their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Care homes will need to provide to Government with details of their resident’s named visitors in order for the PCR tests to be booked. This means that while the visiting policy goes live tomorrow, it may take time for care homes to provide this information. 

I’m sure that while everyone is anxious to see their loved ones, Islanders will understand that it will take time to get the testing system up and running in a way that ensures we are protecting residents, care home staff and visitors.

I sincerely hope that this new guidance will provide comfort to care home residents and their family and friends, allowing them to visit and receive visitors safely, whilst continuing to protect our most vulnerable community members.

This safety of Care Home residents and staff is of paramount importance, and we will keep this guidance under regular review.
I’ll now hand back to the Chief Minister.
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