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Green arrivals to quarantine until negative test from Tuesday

Green arrivals to quarantine until negative test from Tuesday

Thursday 08 October 2020

Green arrivals to quarantine until negative test from Tuesday


People arriving from green zones will have to quarantine until they get their first negative test result from Tuesday, after politicians approved the move.

The vote - a proposal brought forward by Deputy Inna Gardiner but amended by the Health Minister - passed yesterday.

Deputy Gardiner submitted her proposition last week amid growing unease about the current lack of requirement for passengers arriving in Jersey from ‘green’ zones to isolate until it is confirmed they do not have covid.

But the Health Minister, Deputy Richard Renouf, instead suggested that self-isolation should not be made compulsory until test result turnaround was 12 hours on average – a milestone which he said was due to be reached next Tuesday 13 October.

After 17 new cases were identified over the course of two days, Deputy Gardiner submitted her own urgent amendment calling for the measure to be enforced from Friday morning.

Presenting her proposition, the St. Helier Deputy said asking all passengers arriving from green zones to isolate until they receive a negative test result was “common sense” given the current circumstances, referring to an Imperial College study which suggested as many as one in 200 people in the UK have covid.

She acknowledged the measure would not fix all problems or completely safeguard the borders, but said it would reduce the risk and “give the public the reassurance of safety and feeling that we are listening to them and acting quickly in response to a changing situation."

She defended her amendment, arguing that waiting for another week was “irresponsible.” 

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Pictured: The Health Minister described the Deputy’s proposition as “well-intentioned but unnecessary”.

The Health Minister described the Deputy’s proposition as “well-intentioned but unnecessary”, as the Government had already announced the isolation would be required from Tuesday 12 October.

He told the Assembly the risk of infection in the island remained very law and the higher number of cases in the UK was offset by the falling passenger numbers arriving to the island.

He argued introducing the isolation requirement earlier would make no difference to number of infections but cause “considerable disruption and confusion to travellers."

The Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré, said he didn’t agree with Deputy Gardiner’s arguments, adding that her “understanding [of risk] was incorrect”, later describing the current risk of infection “negligible."

He suggested that politicians were “allowing fear to dominate our decision-making process”, and urged the Assembly to not got for a “knee-jerk reaction."

He warned that introducing the isolation requirement earlier than planned, would risk a breach trust and reputational damage for the island. 

Deputy Jess Perchard rejected the Chief Minister’s comments about Deputy Gardiner’s understanding, saying “let’s not be patronising,” and later adding “Deputy Gardiner is diligent, any allusion to the contrary is repulsive to me."

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Pictured: Deputy Jess Perchard said she was among those who have “a lower appetite for risk”.

The St. Saviour Deputy said she was among those who have “a lower appetite for risk", adding "we want no risk."

She then reminded the Assembly that Dr Ivan Muscat, the Deputy Medical Officer for Health, had said “we cannot wait behind the 12th for people arriving from green zones to self-isolate."

“Medically speaking, it means the 12th Is the cut off for when we need to isolate,” Deputy Perchard continued. “I don’t want to wait to the last possible day, I want to do it sooner.” 

Deputy Montfort Tadier said if someone died after catching covid from a traveller between Friday and Tuesday, the Government wouldn’t be able to describe their death as “negligible."

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Pictured: The Environment Minister said there was “no question the risk had increased."

Deputy John Young, the Environment Minister, once again broke ranks from the Government, saying there was “no question the risk had increased.” He reminded that when the borders were reopened, the Government had advised there would be one infection in every seven weeks.  

“We have now had 17 in two days and seven in one day,” he added. “The situation has radically changed in the last 48 hours since the Minister’s amendment.”

Constable Sadie Le Sueur-Rennard also supported the proposition, saying the island "couldn't keep on importing the virus all the time" and calling for elderly people to be better looked after. "Nobody seems to care about the elderly," she said.

Several members spoke against the proposition, arguing that there was no reason to depart from the medical advice. Deputy Scott Wickenden said: “Do we want to be known as the jurisdiction who disregarded medical advice to make political decisions in this pandemic?”

Others, like the Minister for Home Affairs, St. Clement Constable Len Norman, urged members not to panic, arguing that Deputy Gardiner had been “spooked” by extra cases and was risking spooking other islanders. 

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Pictured: Ministers called for the measure to wait until Tuesday to give more time to the hospitality industry to prepare.

Senator Lyndon Farnham, the Minister for Economic Development, described how bringing forward the measure would prove a challenge for the hospitality industry as they would need to prepare for travellers visiting over the weekend.

The point was raised as well by Senator Ian Gorst, the External Relations Minister, who said it was not unreasonable to give a few more days to not only have more confidence over the process but also give the hospitality and tourism industry, which he said had suffered “massive strain” during the pandemic, time to prepare and create quarantine space.

There are currently 41 individuals confirmed as having the virus in Jersey. 

 21 are showing symptoms and 20 are not.

Confirming the latest results yesterday, the Government said: "Since Tuesday 6 October, 2 new cases have been identified in Jersey through inbound travel (1 was an old infection), and 1 individual was found through admission screening, they presented themselves to hospital with health issues unrelated to covid-19, none are in hospital."

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Posted by Jon Jon on
Not often I agree with back benchers but Deputy Gardiner was correct, this should of been brought in today ,not wait until another week goes by.Numbers have jumped up from a week ago, nearly doubling to well into forties, another week could see it up to eighties plus.It does seem that the economy comes first over health, an empty nightingale hospital that needs filling.
Posted by Peter Garrett on
We should have test results turnaround in one hour,then we could have our cake and eat it and this argument would be unnecessary
It’s been achieved in other countries why can’t Jersey
Posted by Keith Marsh on
Throughout Europe numbers are rising very quickly, including Germany {previously considered the safest country} The UK infection rate is going through the roof, doubling every 7 days ~ We should have CLOSED the free border today. Testing should have started tomorrow, Friday.
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