The date when islanders will no longer have isolate, if they get a positive covid test, has been pushed back a month to the end of April, because of new sub-variant of the virus.
Originally, ministers set a deadline of 31 March, after which islanders would no longer legally have to isolate if they caught the virus.
However, with the number of cases still above 2,400, they have decided that a delay is appropriate, following advice from their medical and scientific advisers.
A combination of the identification of the more transmissible BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron, as well as Jersey’s phased de-escalation from covid, means infection rates and hospitalisations have increased since the earlier decision was taken at the end of January.
Dr Ivan Muscat, Deputy Medical Officer of Health, said: “The decision to extend the mandatory isolation requirement will allow our spring booster component of the vaccination programme to make significant inroads towards completion of vaccinating those who are most at risk of being very unwell with covid.
“This extra month will also better permit those who have not yet completed their vaccination schedule to do so – in particular, it is very important that those over 50 who have not had their second or third doses to do so as soon as possible.”
Pictured: Dr Ivan Muscat: "We must ensure we do not have a spike in severe disease".
He added: “Although reducing risk through vaccination is the mainstay of our battle against covid, the extra month will also allow for the further maturation of our anti-viral programme for at-risk Islanders. This too will have a beneficial impact on severe infection and hospital admissions.
“We are seeing the increase of infection rates due to the new more transmissible BA.2 variant coinciding with our measured de-escalation.
“This unforeseen highly transmissible variant – which is now the predominant strain in both Jersey, the UK and many other jurisdictions – is not more virulent but does require a modification to the planned rate of de-escalation to ensure that we remain in control of events.
“We must ensure we do not have a spike in severe disease which could cause not only more admissions but also a significant attrition of our workforce - both within health care settings and outside.
“It is vital that people continue to understand that we still need to retain sensible precautions whilst enjoying our freedoms, particularly when visiting higher risk settings like the hospital, schools and care homes.
“I would like to remind all Islanders to take sensible precautions before visiting healthcare settings. This includes taking an LFT test before leaving home and wearing a mask in these higher risk environments.”
The isolation benefit will continue for Islanders who are not able to work due to the requirement to isolate at home.
Health Minister Richard Renouf said: “I would like to thank all Islanders for doing the right thing which has allowed us to get to this stage where isolation remains our only legal requirement.
“However, I would also like to issue a strong reminder to all Islanders that we are not post-covid; we are post-emergency. This is an important distinction to be aware of.
“It means covid still poses a threat to our way of lives, so it is vital that islanders continue to follow public health guidance, especially keeping up to date with their vaccination schedule, as it is truly the best protection from the virus.”
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