24 February 2022
A strategy outlining Jersey's COVID-19 de-escalation and recovery plans as the Island comes out of the emergency phase of the pandemic has been published today.
The positive effect of high vaccination coverage and lower disease severity, shown both in global data and in Jersey's recent data, has allowed the Government to step down from managing COVID-19 as a public health emergency.
The COVID-19 Post-Emergency Strategy sets out plans for how Jersey intends to live with and manage the virus over the next few months.
The Strategy includes the following key priority areas:
- The Government will continue to provide free PCR testing to all symptomatic Islanders and those with a positive lateral flow test (LFT) result until at least June 2022. Additionally, free LFTs through the home testing programme will be available until at least June 2022.
- Vulnerable Islanders at greater risk continue to be protected through vaccination and testing, but also through new free community based treatments.
- Clinical pathways to support those living with Long Covid have been set up.
- The removal of mandatory self-isolation will be implemented before the end of March. Until this time, Islanders must continue to isolate when they receive a positive PCR test result.
- The frequency of COVID-19 routine data reporting will be reduced from daily reporting to weekly reporting before the end of March.
- Vaccination remains the first line of defence and will continue to be delivered through a centralised vaccination model for the time being as the best way of maintaining our high vaccination uptake. We will continue to follow the guidance provided by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and UK Chief Medical Officers, including the latest JCVI advice to offer spring vaccination doses to eligible Islanders, and universal vaccination for 5 to 11 year olds.
From this week, vulnerable Islanders will begin to receive letters from Health and Community Services about new antiviral treatments that they may be eligible for should they contract COVID-19. A doctor will confirm eligibility based on a list of criteria.
The de-escalation of COVID-19 measures, including the removal of mandatory mask wearing and the suspension of the Safer Travel policy, began in January as a result of the Island's high vaccination uptake and the reduced risk posed by the current dominant variant, Omicron.
The step down from emergency status allows the Government of Jersey to now focus their investment on COVID-19 recovery and future wellbeing. The Strategy contains a range of projects designed to start tackling the harms caused by the pandemic, and this will be a focus for the Government in 2022 and future years.
COVID-19 recovery projects include:
- Providing additional support for 0 to 5 year olds whose normal development has been impacted by the pandemic.
- Supporting children who have been impacted by mental and physical heath wellbeing, and learning disruptions.
- Providing access to dental health care for primary school age children who have had dental care delayed.
- Providing targeted adult support to those most impacted by isolation, disconnection, and employment disruption.
- Treating Long Covid in the community and ensuring people living with Long Covid benefit from access to treatment and support.
- Carrying out research to develop understanding and insight as to how Islanders mental and physical health and wellbeing have been impacted by the pandemic, and to inform projects and relevant services.
- Engaging with those most impacted by poor access to the protective benefits of green space and the natural environment during lockdown and offering voluntary schemes to improve access and infrastructure.
Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf, said: "It has been over two years since Jersey reported its first case of COVID-19. Over the past two years, the Government and Competent Authority Ministers have responded quickly to an unprecedented and continually evolving virus which posed a threat to our way of life, the health of Islanders, and the continuity of businesses and critical services.
"The strong position the Island is now in is due to the high uptake of vaccination, and the reduced risk posed by the current dominant variant, Omicron. Therefore, I am pleased to be publishing the COVID-19 Post-Emergency Strategy today as we continue to de-escalate measures in the Island and focus on recovery and future wellbeing.
"There are a number COVID-19 recovery projects designed to tackle the harms caused by the pandemic. This will be the Government's focus this year and in future years.
"As we exit the emergency phase, it is important that Islanders continue to follow guidance and precautions. I must remind Islanders that it is not the end of the pandemic. We know from the past that the virus evolves, and the Strategy is here to ensure we can quickly and proportionately respond if needed.
"Vaccination remains at the heart of our approach in living with COVID-19. By getting vaccinated, we will stand strong against COVID-19 and learn to live with it the best way we can."