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Managing the pandemic is not a “competition”

Managing the pandemic is not a “competition”

Thursday 24 December 2020

Managing the pandemic is not a “competition”

Thursday 24 December 2020

The Chief Minister has hit out at comparisons between Jersey and Guernsey’s diverging pandemic strategies, arguing that it’s not a competition.

Senator John Le Fondré said it won’t be possible to tell which island has done better or worse until five to 10 years.

His comments came in a press conference during which he discussed a new set of restrictions – including the closure of non-essential shops and a limit on all gatherings indoors and outdoors – aiming to flatten the curve of infection.

Video: The States of Guernsey released a video counting their blessings for Christmas. 

Beyond the quarantine requirements for all arrivals, there are currently no restrictions in Guernsey, and none have been issued for Christmas, a fact the States of Guernsey celebrated in a video noting "we are able to enjoy the festivities in a way that almost no one else in the World can".

At the time of the conference, there were four active cases in Guernsey – a number which has since risen to eight following contact tracing. In Jersey, the latest figures show a total number of cases of 988, with 77 new cases identified over the last 24 hours and 77 having recovered.

While Guernsey adopted an elimination strategy - which Deputy Jess Perchard pledged for to achieve zero cases of the virus locally - Jersey decided to 'delay, contain, shield’.

When asked by Express how Jersey’s strategy compared to that of its sister island, the Chief Minister refused to make any comparison.

“We don’t comment on other jurisdictions, because it’s only going to be in 5 or 10 years’ time that we will know who did better or who did worse I’d suggest,” he said. 

“It’s not a competition, it’s about following the profile that’s appropriate for our island.”

He then went on to defend the local strategy, saying it had been focused on doing the best for the island.

“We’ve invested a lot in putting all the measures in place about testing, about the border controls, about allowing, therefore, people to have a fairly free summer for example. That has been part of the strategy,” Senator Le Fondré said. 

“We’ve been investing all the way through for months and months and months to then actually bring us to this place, which is we’re getting a lot more intelligence at how that virus is spreading in our community and then how we address it.”

John Le Fondré.jpg

Pictured: The Chief Minister maintains the number of cases is high because a lot of people are being tested.

Despite the worrying rising trend of active cases, the Chief Minister then tried to paint a better picture of the current situation, assuring the Government is still in control of it.

“I think we’ve got to stand back and say - 'look, our positivity rate still remains relatively low’,” he said.

“We’ve said that our numbers only look high because of the significant amount of testing we’re doing. 

“We are being proactive because we’re watching that increase and saying we think there’s further measures we need to do to keep the suppression of things in place. From that point of view, we’re all doing the very best for the island and we will continue to do so.”

The Health Minister, Deputy Richard Renouf, also intervened, explaining that Jersey’s strategy was about “balancing harms”.

“Thus far we’ve been fortunate in that the number of people needing treatment in the hospital has been low, so in that respect we’ve kept a good control on this and successfully balanced those harms.” 

There are currently 28 islanders with covid-19 in hospital, with one islander who was receiving treatment for covid-19 having died yesterday.


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