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.
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:
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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