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Omicron reaches the Channel Islands

Omicron reaches the Channel Islands

Thursday 09 December 2021

Omicron reaches the Channel Islands

Thursday 09 December 2021


An individual who recently travelled back to Guernsey from the UK has tested positive for the Omicron variant of covid.

The person immediately alerted the island's Public Health Services after being advised that they may have been in contact with someone who was a positive Omicron case.

After sequencing of a rapid PCR test confirmed the variant, the individual's close contacts were advised to isolate. They are now undergoing PCR tests and are following Guernsey's requirements for Omicron contacts.

The island's emergency decision-making group - the Civil Contingencies Authority (CCA) - decided not to make any immediate changes to the Guernsey's covid protocols, given that there is currently only one local Omicron case.

Chief Minister and CCA Chair Deputy Peter Ferbrache said it was "no surprise" that Omicron had been identified in Guernsey.

"...We had expected this and that is why we announced last week new requirements for any suspected contacts of Omicron cases, which are stricter, as a precaution," he said.

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Pictured: Deputy Ferbrache said the island would be taking a "cautious, but proportionate approach in the coming days."

"Our on-island sequencing is also proving effective and it has confirmed this case is of the new variant in less than a day. Our expert staff will now continue the work of testing contacts of this confirmed case of Omicron and sequencing any found to be positive to give us a clearer picture."

Dr Nicola Brink, Director of Public Health, praised the individual who tested positive for Omicron, saying they had "done everything right and that has helped us to contact trace locally in a quick and effective way."

"At this stage, the contacts we're now working with are few and that's good. But we will need to take a little bit of time to see if there has been any further spread," she said.

Acknowledging the "uncertainty" remains around Omicron, Deputy Ferbrache advised that the CCA would "continue to meet regularly". 

"...Should we see a changing picture that requires any new measures as part of our response, we will announce these quickly and clearly so islanders understand what's happening and why," he added.

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Pictured: Dr Brink said the individual with Omicron had done "everything right". 

Dr Brink thanked islanders for their continuing cooperation with covid requirements and recommendations.

Face masks remain mandatory in shops and on public transport, and islanders are being urged to continue regularly testing themselves with lateral flow tests. Anyone with symptoms should stay at home - even if they return a negative lateral flow result. 

The arrival of Omicron in Guernsey comes after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced tightened protocols in response to Omicron last night.

He said that "proportionate and responsible" measures - including upcoming work from home guidance, compulsory face masks and covid passes in certain venues - were being taken because early evidence suggested the Omicron variant of covid “could lead to a big rise in hospitalisations and therefore sadly in deaths”.

In response, Jersey’s Competent Authority Ministers – those with legal responsibility for emergency decision-making – met last night to discuss whether the island should change strategy, but decided to keep the situation under review rather than introduce any new measures. Face masks are not currently compulsory in public spaces on the island, but "strongly recommended".

According to the latest statistics, there are currently 856 active cases across the Bailiwick - 853 are in Guernsey and Herm and one is in Alderney.

In Jersey, there are 1,252.

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Comments

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Posted by Keith Marsh on
and Jersey sits and waits ! typical.
Posted by Jon Jon on
Jersey next week,in fact it’s probably here now!
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