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Antibody tests ‘key’ to unlocking lockdown

Antibody tests ‘key’ to unlocking lockdown

Friday 17 April 2020

Antibody tests ‘key’ to unlocking lockdown

Friday 17 April 2020

The Chief Minister has said that antibody testing will be key to unlocking lockdown, as he pledged that people would come before money in deciding when to lift restrictions.

Responding to questions at a press conference yesterday, Senator John Le Fondré said it was “too early to give any details on what the exit strategy might look like”, but said Ministers had their first discussions on the matter this week.

Asked by Express whether he agreed with the UK's Minister for Health and Patient Safety, Nadine Dorries MP, that lockdown could only be lifted once there is a vaccine, he replied: “The difficulty with the vaccine approach is that we don’t know how far away that is – is that six months away, 12 months away or 18 months away?

“If we knew it was next month, that would give us a completely different outcome.”

He said that exit strategy planning would intensify over the next two weeks, adding that data from the antibody testing kits – if they do “pass muster” - will be key to “influencing and informing” the approach the government takes.

The 'pin prick' blood tests aim to find out if someone has already had the virus and may therefore be immune and able to return to work and support the local economy.

The government has 150,000 kits on order, while 10,000 arrived this week from a different supplier and are being tested for their reliability.

Video: The Chief Minister said data from the antibody testing kits will be key to “influencing and informing” the approach the government takes to the end of lockdown.

Elsewhere in the conference, the Chief Minister also said that an extended lockdown into November or December would not be favourable due to winter illnesses, “which could put our capacity into a difficult position”.

He said the government would be taking a holistic view, also taking into account “things like mental health issues from the problems of being in lockdown for too long”. 

Senator Le Fondré went on to promise that islanders’ health would be put before the economy.

The comments came shortly before Dominic Raab MP, who is deputising for the Prime Minister, announced that the UK would be in lockdown for a further three weeks.

Video: Dominic Raab sets out the UK's five criteria for lifting lockdown. (Sky News/YouTube)

He said that this would only change when five tests are met: 

  1. The NHS is able to cope
  2. Daily death rates fall consistently
  3. Reliable data shows that the rate of infection is slowing
  4. PPE and test supplies are able to meet demand
  5. There is no risk of a second wave of infections overwhelming the health service

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