The Government has said that free lateral flow tests will continue to be available until the summer, as it launched its plan to normalise the island’s relationship with covid.
Diverging from the UK, which announced this week that people would have to pay for kits after 1 April, Jersey has chosen to keep sending out free kits to those that want them under its 'post-emergency' strategy.
Ministers will also decide in a fortnight exactly when islanders who test positive for covid will no longer have to isolate.
The Government has already said that is will be before the end of next month, but it waiting until the week after next to fix the exact date.
This is because rates of infection are still higher than the UK or Guernsey, which have both announced dates, with Jersey lagging slightly behind.
Also, ministers hope to have a better reading of the seasonal respiratory condition as winter recedes and springlike weather arrives.
However, today they have taken a firm step forward with the publication of a ‘post-emergency strategy’, which sets out plans on how responsibility for managing the virus will move from Government laws, regulations and guidance to the decisions of individuals and the polices of organisations, such as businesses and schools.
Policies in the strategy include:
The Government will continue to provide free PCR testing to all symptomatic islanders and those with a positive lateral flow test result until at least June
Free LFTs through the home testing programme will also be available until at least June.
Vulnerable Islanders at greater risk continue to be protected through vaccination and testing, but also through new free community-based antiviral 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 routine data reporting will be reduced from daily to weekly before the end of March.
Vaccines will continue to be delivered centrally for the time being. Jersey will continue to follow the guidance provided by the UK Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation 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 about new antiviral treatments that they may be eligible for should they contract covid. A doctor will confirm eligibility based on a list of criteria.
The strategy brings together various parts of the Government’s ‘de-escalation’ plan, which started last month with the end to mandatory mask wearing and testing at the border.
The strategy also outsides various ‘recovery projects’ which are designed to support those most affected by both the virus and the disruption it has cost.
Health Minister Richard Renouf, said: “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.
Pictured: Maintaining a central vaccination centre remains a key Government priority, including the likelihood of administering a winter 2022 booster.
“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.”
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