Health officials in Jersey are ramping up their measures to stop the spread of covid-19 after they have been unable to trace the infection source of four local cases.
From Monday, islanders will be "strongly recommended" to wear a face mask in public indoor places, such as supermarkets, petrol stations, banks and hairdressers.
Although that recommendation has been in place for a while, officials don't believe it has so far been widely followed, and they want that to now change quickly, given the fact the island has a cluster of cases, and four with an unexplained source. Today's announcement is effectively telling islanders that it is now time for masks.
Politicians will debate changing the law at the beginning of November to make mask-wearing mandatory.
Dr Ivan Muscat, Deputy Medical Officer said: “This is very much the right time to urge the public to use masks routinely in the right settings. We have now seen one cluster of COVID-19, which means three or more linked cases that are not contained in a single household. We have also seen four cases of unknown source in the Island despite extensive contact tracing.
“This is not an unexpected development in the spread of COVID and is proportionate to the increase in viral transmission during the winter months. Masks are an effective way to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and they are a useful addition to the other public health measures that are in place.
“Wearing masks reduces the droplets emitted whilst breathing, talking, coughing and sneezing. It is these droplets that contain the virus and it is these droplets that are responsible for the main form of transmission of COVID. The use of mouth and nose coverings, in addition to increased hand hygiene and physical distancing of 1 metre or more, will help to control the spread of the virus within Jersey.”
Pictured: masks have been mandatory when travelling since flights and ferries resumed.
The current total of active cases stands at 81, with the source of four of those unexplained. Classes at St. Michael's, St. Saviour's and St. John's schools are also isolating following positive cases.
The government's new advice strongly recommends nose and mouth coverings, such as face masks and face screens, for anyone over 11 years old in enclosed public places, where social distancing cannot be guaranteed and where contact tracing cannot be easily recorded, as well as in all health or care settings.
From Monday 26 October, the government says masks should be worn when visiting the following:
Pictured: Masks should be worn when shopping and in other enclosed public places.
Dr Muscat said: “The best type of masks are the three layer fabric masks as recommended by the World Health Organisation because they are more effective than single layer coverings but both are reusable. In a setting where masks would need to be worn for a long time, clear face shields may well be more convenient.”
The Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf said: “Ministers continue to support the preparation and the drafting of legislation for the mandatory use of masks. We accept there may be a short period of adjustment for customers and businesses in the coming days. We will review the result of these measures before considering the mandatory use of masks following a States Assembly debate.”
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