All six new confirmed cases of covid-19 have taken place in the hospital and local care homes, rather than the community, with five involving health workers, the Health Minister has confirmed.
The latest official statistics released yesterday showed six more positive cases of the virus than on Friday, with the total now standing at 303.
Questioned by Express over whether this spike was the result of the initial relaxation of the lockdown measures that took place two weeks ago, Dr Susan Turnbull, the Medical Officer for Health, replied that none of the new cases had occurred within the community.
Video: Dr Susan Turnbull, the Medical Officer for Health, answered questions about the new cases during a press conference.
“My understanding about the latest positive cases is that they are all connected to institutional settings, none of them are connected with transmission in the community,” Dr Turnbull said.
“So, we are talking about hospital cases - I think one or possibly two care homes. But all of those are contained situations which were already known of, so it’s a follow-up of existing situations with a wider testing protocol.”
The Health Minister, Deputy Richard Renouf, added that five of the positive cases were workers in the healthcare system.
“That’s good, because they might have been working without symptoms,” the Minister said. “Our increased testing means now that we can test everybody so if they are without symptoms and we know they have the virus we will take them out of work, they will be asked to self-isolate until that is clear, that is keeping people safe.”
Pictured: The local covid-19 laboratory.
Dr Turnbull said it was not surprising to see new cases. She said that the increased time islanders have been spending outside since lockdown measures were relaxed to allow six hours of daily outdoor activity should not mean that the numbers of islanders contracting covid-19 also increases.
“It’s all more or less what you could expect, it could be higher without causing alarm bells,” Dr Turnbull said.
“There is no reason to think that it’s likely to have been the relaxation over the last couple of weeks because those have been about increasing outdoor activity and there is increasing evidence that the possibility of transmission occurring outdoors is incredibly low.
“You would have to be within two metres of somebody and have a sneeze or a cough actually land on you. So, it’s a very, very low chance that the outdoor measures are going to make any measures to the community transmission of the virus.”
Video: Alison de Bourcier, Head of Environmental and Consumer Protection Contact Tracing Manager, explains how contract tracing works.
The Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré, added that the government was expecting an increase in the number of positive results, as they have ramped up their testing efforts.
The Government set a target of 500 PCR tests a day last month. All hospital in-patients, essential workers with symptoms, anyone who's been in contact with a positive case, and all those referred by GPs or care homes, were among the first to be tested as part of the enhanced regime.
The contact tracing team has also expanded with 55 people now involved with another 12 to be added soon.
Pictured: Hundreds of key workers will soon be tested by the Government.
Last week, the Government announced they would be testing hundreds of public and private sector workers, including teachers, supermarket staff and cleaners.
This will include the swab (PCR) test to see if someone actually has the virus now, and the pinprick (serology) test for antibodies, which confirms if a person has had the virus in the past.
Meanwhile, as Dr Turnbull explained, the eligibility criteria for testing has been broadened.
“Until then, it was you had to have a fever and a persistent cough but now the criteria are more general, about general illness which may include fever and cough, but that may include other potential symptoms too.”
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