Ministers are facing an anxious wait for this weekend's covid figures to find out if the closure of bars, restaurants, hotels and gyms two weeks ago has had an impact before deciding if stricter measures are needed before Christmas.
Yesterday Health Minister Deputy Richard Renouf revealed that the latest estimated R number is between 0.9 to 1.1, which means that - if it is below 1 - the virus is no longer spreading at an exponential rate.
If it is above 1, then a person with covid is passing it on to at least one other person.
On 2 December - the date 'lockdown lite' was announced - the R rate was between 1.6 and 2.0.
Pictured: According to the Health Minister, the R number has fallen since 'lockdown lite' was announced, from (1.6 to 2.0) to (0.9 to 1.1)
Facing a barrage of questions in the States Assembly yesterday, Chief Minister John Le Fondré announced that the Government would be cancelling a planned conference that evening on the latest case numbers and vaccination plans because the Government needed more time to assess whether its 'lockdown lite' was working.
“We are focused on the fact that it is only going to be Friday at the earliest – and, in reality, this weekend and maybe even Monday – where we’ll see if the trend [of cases] is going to start changing as a result of the hospitality circuit breaker that we put in place, which will only be two weeks on Friday," Senator John Le Fondré said.
“I must admit I was semi-expecting a slight uptick today and tomorrow as a result of the anecdotal behaviour that happened just before that circuit-breaker."
On Wednesday, the Government reported one of its largest ever rises in covid cases - 100 in a single day. It brought the total in Jersey to 881. However, that figure fell slightly yesterday when 97 cases were identified compared to 101 recoveries.
Number of active cases in the Island is 876.— Government of Jersey (@GovJersey) December 17, 2020
533 are symptomatic and 343 are asymptomatic. 31 are in hospital (-1).
214,333 negative tests (+5,254)
2,098 confirmed positive (+97)
1,195 confirmed recovered (+101)
Further stats: https://t.co/Maitmwkwf2
It was confirmed that there are, however, 48 cases in care homes, and that one resident - described as "very elderly" and with long-term underlying health conditions - had passed away from the virus.
31, meanwhile, were reported to be in hospital.
Yesterday morning, at least 10 were believed to be in the ICU and up to five receiving high-flow oxygen.
The medic leading Jersey's response to the pandemic, Dr Ivan Muscat, previously said that whether the Nightingale Ward had to open would depend on how many individuals need high-flow oxygen, with the hospital only able to accommodate between 10 and 20.
Pictured: Dr Ivan Muscat previously said that the number of patients receiving high-flow oxygen would have a bearing on whether the Nightingale Ward is opened.
Explaining what would happen next before Ministers make a call on whether more stringent measures are needed, the Chief Minister said: “In terms of the factors [on which to judge what measures are necessary], we are basing it on the medical advice we have. STAC is meeting today and competent authorities will be meeting after to consider our next stages. The crucial thing is to understand what the trend is and whether the results we have today are part of that trend or whether they were an occurrence prior to the impact of the hospitality circuit breaker and the other measures that we put in place, which should all be starting to bite from the end of this week.
“Let’s be clear, if that trend continues, we will have to make some further announcements in fairly short order.
“It is important to remember that we do have a very good testing and tracing system. Between last week and the week before, the number of tests increased from 10,000 to 14,000, which is a 40% increase. That does have an impact on the number of results we are seeing. We are not only keeping an eye on Christmas but the likely impact on January and February. The vaccination programme is working well.
“Don’t forget that the priority is maintaining the health service in a good capacity to look after islanders. And it is working.”
Pictured: The Chief Minister once again took the opportunity to emphasise Jersey's testing capacity.
During the question session, the Assistant Education Minister also revealed the latest statistics for attendance in schools this week, with a 40% overall attendance rate. Broken down, that relates to a 52.1% attendance in primary schools and a 24.9% attendance in secondary schools.
The Health Minister was also grilled by States Members about the decision to stop pregnant women from taking a companion to ante-natal scans - against the latest NHS guidance which said supporters should be able to accompany pregnant women "at all stages of their maternity journey." Deputy Renouf maintained it was an important infection control measure, which many Members angrily disputed.
Last night, a petition was set up calling for companions to be able to attend scans, and has since gained around 600 signatures.
Elsewhere in the sitting, Members were also reassured that the long-awaited minutes of four meetings of STAC - the Government's scientific advisers - would be published this week, with others released next week.
Pictured: New NHS guidance says pregnant women should be able to have someone with them "at all stages of her maternity journey."
Following a proposition from Deputy Kevin Pamplin, Members agreed last July that the minutes should be made public, but this has happened only rarely since then, despite regular meetings of the Government’s group of scientific advisers.
Senator Le Fondré said that the delay was due to the members of STAC having to prioritise their clinical and professional work over administration.
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