More than a million items of medical protective equipment are on their way to Jersey after the government placed a mass order last week, the Chief Executive has confirmed.
Charlie Parker said some of the items ordered would be arriving this week and distributed through a newly-established 'PPE Coordination Cell'.
The Government’s CEO announced the order during a press conference following concerns raised by health workers across the island, and the Reform Jersey party, who wrote to the Chief Minister on the matter yesterday.
Mr Parker explained that over the last two weeks, the Government has been coordinating all PPE requests on behalf of all staff, after discovering that different organisations had arrangements that needed “to be better managed”.
Video: Chief Executive Charlie Parker was given a tour of the hospital's covid-19 preparations and its new testing facility earlier today.
He added that Public Health guidance regarding use of PPE had also been updated due to limited supply.
This, Mr Parker explained, was done to ensure that staff receive “the correct PPE equipment that they need, rather than the equipment they might want".
“I know that is a difficult message to convey,” he said. “But let me be clear: at no stage will we let any staff be at risk of infection.”
A panel of clinicians will be assessing each PPE request to make sure the right equipment is given to provide the level of protection needed.
The PPE Coordination Cell was also set up to coordinate requests, deliveries, stock and distribution on-island.
It includes an online portal, available seven days a week to all 150 organisations requiring PPE, including private care providers, which had previously complained of shortages.
Pictured: Over a million items of PPE have been ordered.
“I want to reassure you that significant stocks of PPE are already held in Jersey, and that we have been receiving flows of PPE into the Island to replace what is being used,” Mr Parker said.
“We also placed an order for more than a million items of PPE last week, which will begin arriving this week.”
Mr Parker also provided an update on testing, saying that Jersey's covid-19 testing lab is now processing 120 tests a day, up from 75 in previous days.
While an order of 10,000 swabs is still expected to be delivered early next month, the 10,000 antibody tests – which will show if someone has had the virus and since developed immunity - were received this week and are currently being tested.
Pictured: Jersey's covid-19 testing lab is now processing 120 tests a day.
Noting that the process could take up to 10 days, Mr Parker added: “Once the kits are confirmed as offering reliable results, they will be used to support an Island-wide immunity testing programme – starting with frontline workers – and we will order further kits as necessary.
“We also expect the first batches of the order of 150,000 immunity test kits which we announced last week to arrive later this month, which will also need to be tested for reliability."
Mr Parker also announced the hospital has been transformed into a ‘hot centre’ to support ICU and ward patients, including the creation of an Urgent Treatment Centre in the Gwyneth Huelin Wing.
“The time colleagues have spent getting the hospital ready, training staff and preparing is fantastic,” he said.
Pictured: The Government’s Chief Executive, Charlie Parker, provided an update on the operational work that’s under way to respond to the corona virus pandemic.
Finally, the Government CEO said the first 60 beds of the 180-bed Nightingale Hospital, which is being built at Millbrook playing fields, will be operation on 4 May.
Following questions from Express, Mr Parker clarified that the 180 beds would be opened in stages to ensure enough staff are available to operate the facility and to facilitate the sourcing of beds.
He explained that it would not act as a facility for the most serious cases, but rather act as a "step-down facility" for those in recovery after having more urgent, or ICU, treatment within the hospital.
He said that the building, flooring, partitioning systems and M&E services had all been sourced and that the hospital would be a semi-temporary structure from the Netherlands, erected by a specialist team from Neptunus, while all the other work is being carried out by local companies. Some of those companies, he explained, have donated their services for free.
Pictured: Work is progressing on the field hospital at Millbrook playing field.
“As of this morning, the groundworks are complete, the flooring has been laid and the roof structure has begun to be lifted into place,” he added.
“The entire structure should be completed on Monday, ready for the fit-out phase. We are on target to complete on time.”
Mr Parker also said the Government have sourced a dedicated oxygen-generating plant, which will be reusable once the Nightingale hospital is decommissioned.
The CEO explained this would replace an oxygen supply contract which couldn’t be secured due to the worldwide demand for bottled oxygen.
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