30 December 2021
Competent Authority Ministers (CAM) have met today to review Public Health policy and agree new COVID-19 measures.
Changes to the isolation policy for fully vaccinated
Ministers have agreed changes to the isolation period for Islanders who meet specific criteria. The changes to the isolation policy follow advice from Public Health in consultation with the Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell (STAC).
With immediate effect, Islanders who are fully vaccinated or aged under 12 years, can be released from isolation from Day 7 instead of Day 10, if:
- two negative Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs) have been registered via the online portal at Day 6 and Day 7, at least 24 hours between each test
- have been symptom free for 48 hours.
Currently, for the purposes of the isolation policy, the definition of fully vaccinated is:
- aged 18 years and over: 3 doses + 2 weeks since last vaccination
- aged 12 to 17 years: 2 doses + 2 weeks since last vaccination
A further condition of isolation release at Day 7 for Health and Social Care workers is the performance of daily Lateral Flow Tests from Day 8 to Day 10.
There is no change to the guidance for positive COVID-19 cases who are not fully vaccinated. Such individuals are still required to self-isolate for 10 full days after the date when they first tested positive.
The changes to the isolation period:
- reflects evidence which shows the risk of infecting others reduces quicker in those who are fully vaccinated, and that the greatest risk of infectivity occurs early on - just before, during, or just after the onset of symptoms. It is also early on in asymptomatic individuals
- considers the evidence which shows LFTs are highly effective in detecting the infectivity
- balances the harms associated with the physical and mental health of isolating Islanders
- supports essential public services and the resilience of the Island's Critical National Infrastructure, while still limiting the spread of the virus.
The COVID Safe team will be contacting Islanders who are currently on day 6, 7, 8 or 9 of isolation, over the next 24 hours to facilitate release from isolation if they fulfil the criteria. Going forward, emails will be sent by the COVID Safe team when an individual tests positive, and again on Day 6 of isolation with a reminder of the process to be conducted. Individuals will then be asked to email the COVID Safe team with confirmation they meet the criteria, including their vaccination status, being symptom-free and having successfully uploaded their two negative LFT results.
Removal of a PCR test for Direct Contacts
In addition, from Saturday 1 January, Islanders who are a Direct Contact of someone who is positive with COVID-19 will no longer be required to take a PCR test followed by 10 days of Lateral Flow Tests. Instead, Direct Contacts will only be required to undertake 10 days of Lateral Flow Tests.
Islanders who are identified as a Direct Contact will continue to be notified by the COVID Safe team by text message or email. Any Islander who tests positive on an LFT will need to attend for a confirmatory PCR test by booking online or calling the Coronavirus helpline.
Any Islander who is symptomatic should still book a PCR test online.
Based on the current position, Ministers have also confirmed that the Island's schools will re-open as planned on Tuesday 4 January. Children, Young People, Education and Skills (CYPES) and Public Health continue to monitor the situation.
As an additional reassurance, staff in schools and childcare/early years settings are being offered a PCR test on the 1, 2 or 3 January, prior to the return of nurseries, schools and colleges.
Walk-ins at the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme
In addition, Ministers have announced the Vaccination Centre will open for walk-ins from Friday 31 December for the next two weeks. The team have increased their staffing to accommodate vaccination for as many Islanders as possible. The team encourage you to come forward for your booster and there is still time to attend if you have not received your first and second dose.
Operational changes at the Vaccination Centre will see a separate lane for booked appointments to maintain appointment times for Islanders who have pre-booked a scheduled slot online. Walk-in vaccinations will be given on a first come, first served basis. The Vaccination Centre will be closed on Saturday 1 January, re-opening from 8:30am on 2 January.
Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf, said: "COVID-19 is spreading quickly among Islanders and the pace at which Omicron is transmitting may pose a risk to the resilience of our critical national infrastructure.
"This new guidance will continue to help break chains of transmission and minimise the impact on lives and livelihoods. It is crucial that people carry out their LFTs as the new policy sets out and continue to follow all the public health advice.
"The changes to the policy will also see a community-wide benefit to the health and wellbeing of Islanders. Implementing the policy immediately will see some Islanders who are currently in isolation being able to spend New Year with family and friends.
"I am also very pleased that walk-in appointments will be available for all eligible Islanders for first, second or booster doses, which will make it easier for Islanders As always, I urge all eligible Islanders to get their COVID-19 vaccinations without delay, especially in light of the Omicron variant."
Deputy Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ivan Muscat, said: "We are now experiencing a sharp rise in infections in Jersey fuelled by the Omicron variant, which is now our dominant variant as it is in the UK and many other European countries.
"Early studies are showing that Omicron cases are less likely to result in admissions to hospital, but this positive news is somewhat offset by its higher growth rate and therefore higher infection numbers and the lower vaccine protection for Islanders especially if they are not boosted.
"The new policy will continue to help break chains of transmission and will help maintain the community resilience. Evidence shows viral infection reduces quicker in those who are fully vaccinated, and the greatest risk of infection spread is seen at an early stage during or just after the onset of infection. As always I would very strongly encourage everyone eligible for vaccination to complete their schedule if they have not already done so. Vaccination remains our strongest weapon against COVID."