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WATCH: Chief Minister urges "calm" as covid cases hit 1,400

WATCH: Chief Minister urges

Tuesday 13 July 2021

WATCH: Chief Minister urges "calm" as covid cases hit 1,400

The Chief Minister urged islanders to "remain calm" and hinted at continuing restrictions last night, as the number of people in Jersey with covid hit 1,399, with five in hospital.

Emergency meetings of STAC, Competent Authorities Ministers and Public Health officials were held yesterday evening, as the island's test and trace system neared collapse once more.

The full Council of Ministers has been meeting this morning to discuss how to deal with Jersey's rapidly rising covid case numbers. The Chief Minister and Health Minister are due to appear at a press conference later today to "announce guidance to staying safe this summer."

It's believed that Thursday's planned 'Freedom Day' - the lifting of final restrictions on stand-up drinking, nightclubs and private gatherings - will no longer be able to go ahead. 

The biggest wave yet

Over Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 454 new cases were identified.

Of those, 241 people were contact traced, 160 were people feeling unwell and seeking healthcare, 34 were inbound travellers, 16 were picked up via workforce screening, and three via admissions screening.

8,659 people are direct contacts. Following a recent covid policy update, they do not need to isolate provided they agree to testing and do not develop symptoms or return a positive result.


Pictured: Case numbers in the current (third) wave of covid are higher than the second wave.

The case peak and direct contact numbers are now higher than during the autumn-winter wave, although the number of people in hospital remains lower. According to Government statistics, no one has died in the most recent wave.

The latest report on Jersey's R rate showed that the virus is spreading exponentially, with one person infecting around two others on average.

Chief Minister's call for calm

In a video update released last night, the Chief Minister said that the "developing situation" as being monitored "very very closely" and kept under review.

Senator Le Fondré did not address speculation that the planned lifting of final covid restrictions on Thursday may no longer go ahead, but said: “We will come back to you in the coming days to let you know of any more decisions on whether we need to do more as a community.”

He acknowledged the latest statistics may be "alarming" for some, but urged islanders to "remain calm", and reminded them to view them in the context of Jersey having the highest testing rates in Europe. 

The island’s 14-day case rate per 100,000 people is 1,245.83 – higher than any European country.

He also emphasised that infections were primarily affecting those under 39 years old - a cohort in which he said the "chance of severe illness is lowest."

Senator Le Fondré also pointed out that more than half of the island's population was fully vaccinated, and that those with both jabs were less likely to become severely ill.


Pictured: Current covid stats split by age group. (GoJ)

“We are all learning to live with covid in our lives and I want to thank you for your continued patience cooperation and commitment as we see our island through the final stages of the pandemic,” he concluded.

Test and trace chaos

The update comes after Express reported yesterday that the test and trace system is once again struggling to cope under the pressure of rising cases, with islanders are facing long waits on the helpline and having difficulties in booking tests.

covid test track and trace contact tracing

Pictured: Extreme pressure on the contact tracing team led to the change in direct contact policy, allowing them to leave isolation.

Many islanders have reported that they have been told they are direct contacts by individuals they know to have tested positive, but sometimes had to wait more than 24 hours to be contacted by the contact tracing team.

Blasting the Government's approach, Senator Sam Mézec said yesterday afternoon on Twitter: "This situation is a shambles.

"The government should well have predicted that cases would go up when they opened the borders, and clearly didn't account for it, allowing the system to get overwhelmed, and now risking causing havoc in the economy they were trying to protect."

Last week, Senator Le Fondré said that around 30 staff were being added to the team to deal with the rising case loads.

Senator Kristina Moore previously called for an online test booking solution to help ease test and trace pressures, but those calls have so far gone without response.

Class closures as school staffing hits "critical"

Schools have also been badly affected.

According to statistics released by the Government to Express yesterday afternoon, more staff and students have been hit by covid this term than during the island’s previous case peak in autumn.

356 individuals – 325 pupils and 41 staff – have tested positive for the illness since half-term. Over a four-week period during the second wave, 198 pupils were infected and 31 staff.

Current attendance levels have dipped to 79.7% in secondary schools and 91.1% in primary schools.

Grainville, which described its staffing levels as "critical" in an email to parents and guardians yesterday, is planning to close to two different year groups today and tomorrow. Trinity and La Moye are also having to close classes due to the high levels of covid in year groups. Express understands possible closures at other schools are also being discussed.

Business closures

In the most recent relaxations to Jersey’s covid measures, Ministers were clear that the intention was to move to a place where the island could “live with covid” in order to keep the economy buoyant.

However, many businesses are now having to close or scale back their operations as a result of the high case numbers. 

New Era Veterinary Hospital has had to reschedule some of its routine procedures and appointments as three vets have contracted covid.

Several local cafés and restaurants have also been forced to close until further notice due to staff shortages as a result of covid cases.

Others have stopped short of closure, instead having to reduce their service.

Meanwhile, Deputy Carina Alves reported on Twitter that she was aware of a direct flight from Jersey to a green destination that had been cancelled, reporting that: “Pilots and cabin crew don’t want to risk coming because of our numbers.” Express has asked for clarification on which one and is awaiting a reply. 

The business closures come as Jersey nears the end of the Co-funded Payroll Scheme, which will finish at the end of August.

In the midst of the second wave of the pandemic in December, more than 1,500 businesses were paid £7.6m.

Under the banner of “keep Jersey in business”, the Government has been encouraging organisations to take part in its lateral flow testing regime.

STAC and Competent Authorities Ministers were locked in talks about the next steps forward yesterday afternoon

Today, the full Council of Ministers is meeting at 10:15, with a covid update scheduled for 12:00. A press conference will be taking place at 16:00 and live-streamed on social media.


Covid pressures see school’s staffing hit “critical” again

Emergency Ministerial meeting as covid school situation hits “critical”

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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 Jon Jon on
Nothing you can do but stay calm,but with the shambles of a government we have,it’s hard to!
Posted by Keith Marsh on
JLF must go !
Posted by Donal Dolo on
Open millbrook asap
Posted by Private Individual on
My god this counsel of ministers seriously need to go!!

Now! immediately!!!!!

What are they thinking!!!!!
Posted by gordon le claire on
corvid is here to stay there is no point in not letting people mix go out etc we keep on delaying and there will be no pubs or restaurants to go to
Posted by Dawn Armstrong on
If you didn't watch Panorama last night on Long Covid watch it now, truly frightening. The Island is now in deep trouble many of us but mainly youngsters will get Long Covid and their lives will be blighted.
The so called competent minister body has blood on their hands. Criminal
Posted by Simon Berry on
People have 'remained calm' - and now there are 1400 known cases. What comes next?
Posted by gordon le claire on
sorry do not agree with the above it is the youngsters' who are ignoring the rules not wearing masks and meeting up in large groups
Posted by Simon Berry on
"remain calm" - Is that it?
Posted by Martin on
History repeats itself as it has for millennia, where those in power cause mayhem for those subject to that power!

We must not forget that the majority of our Government have little or no previous qualifications or experience in the "roles" they now play!

So we must decide is this a matter of limited sKills or acumen or a blend of both, OR maybe some do not care Or some may enjoy the ability to make decisions which ultimately affect thousands of lives & to potentially cut short a few lives?

As previously mentioned Politicians ( SOME ) are like bananas - they start off green - then turn yellow & rarely do you find many straight ones???

Some of the comments precipitated by C19 & the Gov management of it ARE harsh but C19 IS also harsh SO harsh comments are just an inevitable result!
Posted by John Henwood on
Reading the above, there’s not much ‘keeping calm’ around. “Open Millbrook” says Donal Dolo, what Millbrook? The Park? The Nightingale extension to the hospital is in the process of being dismantled, never having been used. “This Council of Ministers seriously need to go!! Now! Immediately!!!!! Go easy with the exclamation marks Private Individual, they’re being rationed.
Time to get real. This virus is with us now and for as long into the future as we can imagine. We either crawl under a stone and wait to die, or get on with our lives in a sensible, considerate way. Which do you prefer?
Posted by Martin on
Stay calm?
The Lemmings stayed calm and then ran off the cliff!
Posted by SimonBevens28 on
In spite of suggestions that we still need to be cautious I see very few others wearing masks when shopping and so forth. With young people less likely to bother getting vaccinated because 'it doesn't affect them' much, any idea of collective responsibility has gone west. I will keep wearing my mask and staying as far from others as possible. It is now down to 'save yourself' (in a calm fashion) and let others risk what they will. I wish you all 'good luck' as this train isn't stopping.
Posted by Sheila Young on
Millbrook Nightingale hospital should never have been closed until such time as we are in a much better position, maybe they should start re-assembling it. We could use it for additional vaccination and testing purposes. People that have been contact traced need to be tested much sooner. This whole thing is a shambles and there is no way restrictions can be relaxed any further. It seems we cannot cope at present without adding to the madness.
Posted by Glenn Cowie on
Shambolic. People need to be accountable for the horrendous handling of this in Jersey, by the government. Couldn't find their backside with both hands, this current lot.
Posted by Cardin Pasturel on
Those who want to hide away for the rest of their lives, feel free to do so. The rest of us will continue to live in the knowledge that we have a 99.997% chance of surviving covid (if we get it). Asymptomatic positive PCR tests should not be counted as cases since. Look at how many deaths there have been at the general hospital due only to Covid between 30th December 2020 and 8th June 2021…….. Answer: 1.
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