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Corona virus: Government announces major travel u-turn

Corona virus: Government announces major travel u-turn

Saturday 14 March 2020

Corona virus: Government announces major travel u-turn


Jersey's government has announced new advice this morning to slow the spread of Corona virus, which includes telling islanders not to travel unless it's essential, just 24 hours after urging them to continue taking holidays as normal.

Today's guidance also advises those over 65 to practice 'social distancing' and for any islanders with flu-like symptoms to stay at home for at least 7 days, irrespective of whether they have travelled outside the island, or come into contact with someone else with the virus.

The new advice brings the island much closer to the measures already being taken in Guernsey. Yesterday, the Government faced a backlash amid claims that it had "missed an opportunity" to protect islanders, led by one of Jersey's most senior medics, Dr. Andrew Mitchell, who hit out at the island's position as “astonishing” on Twitter, opting to issue his own “different” advice to patients.

“Don’t travel. If you are elderly then limit social contact to essentials. Work from home,” he wrote. 

On Friday last week, after a four-hour meeting of the Emergencies Council, the Chief Minister John Le Fondre, had said there was no need for islanders to change their travel plans, and they should maintain "a measured semblance of normal life."

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Pictured: Dr. Andrew Mitchell who broke ranks yesterday, and criticised the government for not going far enough to protect islanders

Today, its Dr. Mitchell's advice which has become official policy.

It follows a media briefing yesterday in which the Government spoke of "flattening the curve" and "building herd immunity" as they try and implement measures which mean although islanders may still contract the virus and so build immunity to it, they do so only at a rate which can be managed by the health service.

To achieve that, the Government has issued fresh advice this morning, which it said were in response to "updated modelling."

  • Social distancing for over 65s who are not essential for the running of the Island’s services should they wish to continue carrying out their roles.
  • Islanders with flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, a cough, muscle aches and headaches should self-isolate until they are symptom free (for a minimum of seven days). This applies whether they have travelled outside Jersey or not and is irrespective of contact with a Covid-19 case.
  • Only undertaking essential travel into and out of the Island. This does not include travel for medical and compassionate purposes or travel by key workers required to keep essential services running across the Island.

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Pictured: the new measures are mainly designed to protect vulnerable groups, like the elderly; for others, the virus is said to be usually "mild."

Commenting on the new measures, Dr Ivan Muscat, Deputy Medical Officer for Health, said: “We’re putting in place these important new recommendations with immediate effect. 

“Social distancing is one of the most important things over 65s can do to protect themselves from coronavirus. Within our current model, this specific form of social distancing could reduce mortality rates by up to 35% in this age group. It will also reduce the demand on the health service.

“At the same time, we must isolate all symptomatic Islanders and minimise travel. 

“These recommendations are the best next steps that we can take to reduce cases of Covid-19 in Jersey."

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Pictured: good hand hygiene is still the main advice for controlling the spread of the virus.

The Government says there are at least 17,000 islanders who are particularly vulnerable to the virus, including the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, which reduce their immune system. For other islanders, the affects of the virus are described as "mild."

Next week the Government says it will make decisions on whether to ban any 'large' gatherings of people, and if measures are needed to restrict the opening of schools. 

The term "social-distancing" will be a new one for many islanders, and so the Government have also published a fact-sheet explaining to islanders that it means avoiding:
  • Kissing, shaking hands and hugging with people from outside of your household.

  • Close contact with children and grandchildren in multi-generation households by

    vulnerable adults.

  • Staying home where possible.

  • Keeping a distance of 1 metre /3 feet from others.

  • Avoiding large public events and crowds where there is close proximity.

  • Avoiding public transport at peak hours unless essential.

  • Working from home if you can do so.

  • Not visiting other households unless essential and ensuring that they are not displaying symptoms.

  • For those who chose to continue their current roles in the community, the advice is to practice good hand and respiratory hygiene, cleaning surfaces regularly and avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

 

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Comments

Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.

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Posted by Sheila Young on
All Islanders over 65 immediately practise ‘social distancing’ 'who are not essential for the running of the Island’s services should they wish to continue carrying out their roles'. What does this actually mean in plain English?
Posted by Brendan Mc Mahon on
Why would we as society not take the best measures possible to protect the most vulnerable in our society and limit the impact on health services. History will reflect on those that have acted appropriately with this in mind. Globally societies are trying to get ahead of the risk of infection through closing schools and limiting risk through social interaction.
Posted by JulieLittlemore14 on
I travelled to Cape Verde last week for a weeks holiday and was very impressed that they had already set up measures to protect their island from the corona virus. All passengers arriving were monitored by a heat thermal camera to defect high temperatures in the body. Many public hotels,bars and restaurants insist on hand sanitizer when you enter. Cape Verde to date has no corona virus to date. These simple measures particularly at the airport of one man operating a thermal camera should be in place at Jersey airport and little cost to the government. So why can’t we put this in place as a precautionary measure and it will put peoples mind at rest that anyone showing rise in body temperature are stopped at the airport and told to self isolate immediately or have a test done.
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