The Government has shared the data it is using to make decisions to slow the spread of covid-19, to help explain why the measures being taken - such as closing schools, and encouraging some people to stay at home - are necessary.
Officials said that without those measures, the "worst-case" scenario, would be around 50% of Jersey’s population suffering symptoms of covid-19, with the Deputy Medical Officer of Health saying Overdale Hospital is being prepped to provide the extra beds needed.
In this 'no action' scenario, 2,000 islanders would require hospital treatment, spreads out over a 10-week period, with as many as 500 needing intensive care.
In this planning scenario, the mortality rate would be a similar number, highlighting exactly why public health officials are already taking preventative steps to slow the spread of the virus, and implement various strategies for ‘flattening the curve’ of covid-19 cases and ensuring Jersey’s health service can cope with the effects of the epidemic.
Pictured: If there were no preventative measures in place, Jersey's hospital would struggle to cope.
These include school closures – which were announced to be beginning at the end of this week shortly after the briefing this morning – and self-isolation measures.
However, Dr Muscat said that ‘social distancing‘ was the only method that would ensure that the peak number of patients with covid-19 remained with the island’s current hospital bed capacity, which he estimated to be around 250.
The term means limiting physical and social contact with others, such as avoiding physically greeting people by hugging, kissing or shaking hands; avoiding public gatherings; avoiding public transport and staying home where possible.
So far, this advice has only been issued to over-65s and those vulnerable to the virus – around 17,000 people in total.
Video: Express was live at the press conference this morning.
But Dr Muscat said this advice would soon be rolled out to the wider population. “We must scale up social distancing,” he said.
He later emphasised that the island’s position was not to enter ‘lockdown’, as has been the case in Europe, and which over 2,000 islanders have called for in a petition.
“We are not talking about incarceration, we are not talking about isolation,” he said.
While Dr Muscat acknowledged that implementing self-isolation, social distancing and school closure measures at once may not have a cumulative effect in bringing down the total number of cases, they would act in a “synergistic” way to ensure the health service can cope with demand.
There are currently around 250 hospital beds, Dr Muscat estimated, and 29 ventilator machines for those hit hardest by the virus.
He said the hospital was looking to speed up the discharges of those requiring non-urgent care, but that those who are “acutely unwell” would be able to stay.
Dr Muscat also explained that staff from different areas may be asked to lend nursing support to help manage the covid-19 outbreak, such as physiotherapists.
Pictured: Use of Overdale Hospital is being considered as a way of providing extra hospital beds.
He noted, however, that officials would be “careful to judge the experience” of each staff member being asked to take on a new role, and ensure that only those with appropriate technical expertise would staff intensive care units.
Overdale Hospital is now being examined as a location to provide extra beds, among other facilities including nursing homes.
Five islanders have been officially confirmed as having coronavirus, but Dr Martin Knight acknowledged during the briefing that some “person-to-person transmission” may have taken place.
However, Dr Muscat added that this had not been “observed”.
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