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Ministers to consider covid testing removal in spring

Ministers to consider covid testing removal in spring

Thursday 18 November 2021

Ministers to consider covid testing removal in spring

Thursday 18 November 2021

Covid testing could be removed in favour of tracking the virus in a more passive way from spring, if Ministers agree.

The discussion scheduled for the end of first quarter of 2022 was referenced by the Government’s scientific advisory body on 6 September, as they reflected on the decision to remove testing at the island’s borders for fully vaccinated passengers.

The removal came into force in mid-October, resulting in an 80% reduction in tests.

STAC minutes said this policy will “remain in force until the Spring 2022”, at which point “a wider removal of testing” could be considered.

At the time, detailed proposals for background covid surveillance to replace “mass testing” of approximately 20,000 people each week were in the process of being drawn up.

“It was mooted that repeated antibody screening, wastewater analysis, blood test sampling and genomic sequencing could be used,” the minutes read.


Pictured: Wastewater analysis can be used for background covid surveillance.

At the next STAC meeting on 13 September, chaired by new Public Health Director Professor Peter Bradley, it was decided that a STAC sub-group “combining different perspectives and disciplines” should be set up to “design a system which fitted the medium-term needs relating to covid-19 and related activity.” 

The members were listed as:

  • Dr Ivan Muscat MBE, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control
  • Dr Graham Root, Independent Advisor - Epidemiology and Public Health
  • Dr Clare Newman, Public Health Principal Officer (public health lead and sub-group co-ordinator)
  • Stewart Petrie, Environmental Health Consultant
  • Ian Cope, Interim Director of Statistics and Analytics

However, it was also decided that a representative from Digital Jersey should be invited to join, and that an individual “with international experience of covid-19 surveillance” should be engaged as an “external consultant advisor”.

They said the latter appointment could involve collaboration with the Isle of Man and Guernsey, with both jurisdictions said to have “expressed an interest”.

The minutes noted that the meetings of the sub-group “would not be formally minuted” and that their proposals would “ideally” be finalised by the end of October for initial consideration by STAC and then Ministers.


Pictured: Public Health Director and STAC Chair Professor Peter Bradley.

“Also included in the scoping document was the anticipated initial requirement for an independent advisor, noting that it was likely that they would be part of, or strongly associated with, academic or public health institution with notable capability in epidemiology and related disciplines. It was not intended at this juncture to establish an academic partnership, but to get at least 10 days of initial support. In the event that someone was to provide good value and advice, this could be reviewed and further developed,” the minutes added.

At the same meeting, it was also noted that 200 portable CO2 monitors had been acquired for use in schools “as part of a wider ventilation policy”. This scheme was said to be a term-long “pilot” mirroring a similar one in the UK.

“If the pilot was successful, more monitors could be used. It was proposed, initially, to deploy them in loci where there were more people, such as school assemblies, but because they were portable, they could be relocated as required.”

STAC noted, however, that “care was needed to ensure that they did not create a ‘false sense of security’ and they were not a substitute for other [covid measures] in the schools, such as the wearing of masks or keeping pupils within class bubbles.”

During the previous meeting, STAC had discussed making mask-use in classrooms compulsory, upon the request of the Chief Minister. However, concerns were raised that this could disrupt children’s learning experience.

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Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.

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Posted by John Sheen on
Could there be a link between the rising cases over here and the fact we stopped testing at the borders a month or so ago?
Posted by Scott Mills on
However, it was also decided that a representative from Digital Jersey should be invited to join, and that an individual “with international experience of covid-19 surveillance” should be engaged as an “external consultant advisor”....is the app working yet. Jeez get's better reading everyday. Always need a laugh.
Posted by IanSmith97 on
The current numbers, whilst high, are not as scary as when we had no vaccines. My wife was double vaccinated and caught Covid. It was a tickly cough and a headache for 48 hours. With the vast (and sensible) majority of the adult population double vaccinated and many booster vaccinated, Covid is not the Island wide danger it once was. If the fringe anti vaccers all got vaccinated it would be even less so. Kudos to the government and our wonderful Dr Muscat for having the sense and guts to start treating this disease as another viral disease that has to be managed. We have to start living normally and get on with our lives.
Posted by Peter Richardson on
I couldn't agree more with IanSmith97. The sooner we look at hospitalisations as the key metric the better. Another lockdown will kill the economy and the hospitality sector.
Posted by Dennis Shore on
With the formation of such an important and ultimately powerful group, why the need for secrecy? Surely minutes should be produced in the name of transparency!
Posted by Private Individual on
IanSmith97, comments such as yours are not helpful when you are implying that people's freedom of choice and ability to make personal (perhaps life-changing) decisions should be ignored where the injection of a drug and medical procedure is concerned.

I have no issue with people wanting to be vaccinated, that is their choice, what I object to is the selfish attitude of the vaxxed when totally ignoring the wishes and concerns of other people who may not be able to take an injection or may have other reasons they are unable to tolerate a vaccine such as Covid 19.

Putting aside all the lawsuits that are happening across the world (especially America) from Covid 19 vaccine-damaged people, I believe where there is a risk, there needs to be a choice. This is how sane, civilized people think.

Besides the fact that vaccinated people are just as likely to contract Covid and pass it on to other people is a testament to why you should have the choice of vaccination or not, Sam Mezec is a perfect example of this. The majority of people are getting vaccinated to be able to go on holiday and go to the pub. Hardly a glowing example of why you should have a potentially life-changing vaccination if you get damaged from it.

There is a risk of side effects from this vaccine, they are known now, so please do your research first before insinuating that all anti-vaxxers are nut jobs and should take the vaccine for the benefit of everyone else, this is unjust and does not take into account people's personal experiences or medical conditions.

Injecting any form of medication has a risk factor associated with it, so does the injection of a Covid 19 vaccine.

So please let people make their own personal choices as far as injecting a drug into their bodies, or that of their children because once we as a society start to slide down the slippery slope of finger-pointing and discrimination of other people because society demands it for the "greater good" of the community, it will unleash a new era of discrimination that we have not seen before.
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