Good afternoon. Thank you for joining us today.
Here with me at the podium is the Minister for Health & Social Care, and on Zoom we have our Director of Public Health.
This morning we learned the sad news that another member of our Island community – a patient at Noble’s Hospital – had lost their life to COVID-19.
My heart goes out to the family and loved ones at this difficult time and I extend my sincerest condolences. My thoughts and those – I am sure – of our whole community are with you. I hope that this offers some small comfort amongst the sense of loss at what I am sure is a moment of profound sadness and grief.
It is an unhappy fact that, around the world, lives are lost to COVID every day – in their thousands. It is something that has, tragically, become a normal part of our existence this past year. Something we have almost become numb to.
And whilst we have not been shielded from the effects of the virus – we have now tragically lost 26 people to COVID-19 here in the Isle of Man – I think we have all at times felt as though we are in some ways detached from its ravages. We have eliminated COVID-19 on two occasions and enjoyed several months of near normality. This has, perhaps, made the pandemic feel as though it was something far away, something outside of our Manx bubble.
Today we have a painful reminder that – despite all of our collective efforts – we cannot completely shield our Island from this disease. That this virus can be lethal. And that we must take seriously the measures in place to prevent the virus’s spread in order to bring the current outbreak under control.
I know you want to say a few words on this sad development David and that you also want to provide an update on the latest numbers.
Thank you David. A similar level of new cases to yesterday and around half the number of new cases we saw at the start of the week.
As I said yesterday, it appears the measures we have in place are having an effect. This is thanks to everyone in our community following the rules. Please keep it up. It is so important that we minimise contact between people. Please stay at home as much as possible. It is the most effective way to protect yourself and your loved ones from catching COVID and to break the chains of transmission.
In relation to new cases, you will likely have heard that some crew members aboard the Ben my Chree have been instructed to self-isolate. This led to today’s sailings of the Ben having to be cancelled. They will resume tomorrow when a new crew is rostered.
The Steam Packet have contingency measures in place for these situations. The MV Arrow made its way to the Island earlier today and will handle overnight freight between the Island and Heysham. Our freight will continue to flow and the Island remains well supplied.
Although today is tinged with sadness, I do have some positive news to share with you.
Earlier today we passed the threshold of having administered 30,000 doses of COVID vaccine.
The team have worked flat out all week, doing a remarkable job, administering thousands of doses. My thanks once again to everyone involved for all that you are doing for our Island.
Some more good news I would like to share. Today we are launching our new COVID-19 dashboard.
We have been publishing open data relating to COVID-19 for some time, however we recognise the need to provide a daily overview for the public.
The new dashboard provides a snapshot of current cases for public information and interest. These are broken down to show whether these have been acquired locally or from travel, as well as the age, gender profiles and location of active cases. It also shows information on rolling averages and provides an overview of our testing programme.
The dashboard is updated automatically using data from contact tracing and the 111 teams. Initially it will be updated once a day at 3pm but with a view to this becoming more frequent in the future.
This is very much version one and – as with our vaccination dashboard – we would welcome your feedback. You can view the dashboard at gov.im/covid19 in the latest updates section.
One final point I want to cover today is support for those who are self-isolating in obtaining essential supplies – such as groceries and medicine. I know there can be real challenges here. But help is at hand.
St John Ambulance has reactivated its prescription delivery service, working in partnership with our community pharmacists and the pharmacy at Noble’s Hospital. Anyone in need of this service can arrange it through their local pharmacy.
For food, local retailers and producers continue to show resilience and adaptability. Dozens of businesses are offering delivery services for produce and prepared meals. Full details are available at gov.im/covid19.
Before handing over to the media, I know that in the past you have been exemplary in approaching questions following the loss of life with sensitivity and compassion. We must all remember that there are people in our community grieving today, and that there will be details to which myself and Minister Ashford are – quite rightly – not privy and which family members may wish to keep private.
As we approach the weekend, with longer days and nicer weather, it is understandable to want to be out and about more.
But I must ask you to continue doing everything you can to bring this outbreak under control. Please stay at home as much as possible. In doing so you are helping to protect not just our health service, our vaccination programme, and other essential services. Most importantly you are helping to protect lives, perhaps even your own.
This weekend please be responsible and do what is right for you, those you love, and our Island community. Please stay at home.