Good afternoon. Thank you for joining us today.
We have reverted to our usual configuration today. I am here at the podium with the Minister of Health & Social Care. And our Director of Public Health joins us on Zoom.
Just before we go to our regular updates, I do hope people have had a chance to watch the excellent session that we broadcast yesterday on emotional wellbeing during lockdown. My thanks to Ross Bailey our Head of Mental Health, to clinical psychologist Professor Davidson and to Lynsey Christian from the wonderful IsleListen organisation. And as always thanks to James Davis for giving up his time to facilitate the discussion. You can find it on our YouTube and social media channels. I would thoroughly recommend it.
Now let’s go to our updates on today’s numbers and any other matters from the Minister.
Thank you, David.
So the number of new cases continues to be low and the rolling averages are all pointing in the right direction.
Again, the frustration is - like yesterday - we have a single unexplained case. On this occasion, although we cannot be 100% certain, we have reason to suspect that this transmission may have originated off-Island.
We must not get ahead of ourselves. This is a snapshot of the last twenty-four hours.
There is still some way to go before we can have the confidence to start making changes to the measures we have in place.
We know how quickly a single case can spread through our community. And the last thing that any of us want is to exit this lockdown too soon just to be confronted by community spread again and be back to square one. We all want this lockdown to be the last one.
So although this may be good news, it is only the beginning.
Let me hand over to our Director of Public Health for her update today.
Thank you Dr Ewart.
Even though we have been able to report some potentially positive news, we must not forget that this means there is still COVID spreading on our Island.
And importantly we must not forget that behind each of these cases is a person and a family. There are people who will be worrying. And there are people who are unwell and suffering. We must not forget this.
So we may be starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But we must do everything we can to maintain the momentum.
If everyone keeps up the high levels of vigilance, hygiene and social distancing then we can continue our cautious move towards better times.
This includes all those who are in self-isolation either as a result of being high-risk contacts or testing positive themselves. I know it is not easy. Thank you for doing the right thing. You are making a difference.
I am glad that since just Tuesday over three hundred more members of our community have been able to leave self-isolation. This is incredibly important for their own wellbeing.
It is also important for our frontline services. I know that so many sectors that are critical for keeping our Island safe and moving had been under pressure with staff members being directed to self-isolate. Staffing pressures at the hospital – which were of particular concern a week or so ago – continue to be closely managed but are currently stable.
And a big thank you to those of you who picked up the phone to 111 when you have developed symptoms that might possibly be COVID related. This is the right thing to do. Don’t take a chance. Call one of our clinicians.
Just before we go to questions, I would like to address a question that I know is on a lot of people’s minds. When will the lockdown end? It is still too early to really give any certainty to this. And the last thing I want to do is make promises that we then cannot keep.
We have said before that we would hope to be able to make some changes around 6 April. If we do continue to see no unexplained cases between now and then, we may still be able to make some changes – even if just modest ones – around that date. We shall have to see as the days go on. I am sorry I cannot give you any more certainty than that today. But I always want to be as frank with you as possible.
What I can tell you is that our vaccination programme continues to deliver. Earlier this afternoon, we passed another important milestone with thirty thousand of our people now having received at least one dose.
The team are now busy focussing on those in their 60s. Over 70% of those 65 to 69 have had at least one dose already.
Letters to the 55-59 age group have been going out this week. Letters to those aged 50-54 have also just now started to go out in batches with the last ones going out early next week.
And we are still on track to have given at least one dose to all those in the Phase One – so that is all those over fifty, all adults with a qualifying underlying health condition and all health and care staff – by around the third week of April – that is just four weeks away.
Plans are now in place for those in Phase Two – so all those between 16 and 50 and we will be sharing those soon.
Let’s take some questions.
Thank you for those questions.
All being well, we will be back on Monday with another update.
Until then, please stay at home as much as you possibly can. You can see it really is making the difference. We need to continue to drive down these cases.
If you do go out, please wear a face covering.
If you do go out to exercise – exercise locally. And exercise safely – low risk activities that avoid placing pressure on emergency services should something go wrong.
And please if you show any symptoms at all, do not brush it off. Do not put others at risk. Stay at home and call 111.
Please continue to make the right decisions for you, your family and your Island.