Good afternoon. Thank you for joining us today.
A weekend media briefing inevitably means we have important news for you which cannot wait.
So this is an important and an opportunity to share our latest thinking.
An announcement was made at lunchtime that we currently have two confirmed, positive cases which cannot currently be linked to the current cluster.
As we are unable at this stage to link either of these cases to a known transmission chain – or to each other – we must conclude that it is possible that the virus is circulating in the community.
At what level we cannot be certain.
That may become clearer when we have traced all the close contacts of the individuals concerned, carried out tests and received the results.
That will take time.
We expect to know more within 24 hours.
If I could ask Henrietta to give an update from a Public Health perspective on this position
Council of Ministers met this morning to discuss what action is needed in the short term – before we have that clearer picture and an idea of the current risk level.
We know that acting decisively and swiftly makes a difference. We cannot out-pace the virus, but we can do our best to keep it in check.
That is what we are doing now.
As many of you will have heard, we are advising all residents to stay at home for the time being, as far as possible.
It is very simple advice. And it will give us the best chance of reducing potential further transmission while we investigate the latest positive cases.
I am aware that a number of long-planned events involving many guests are planned for tonight.
And there will be numerous gatherings, parties, celebrations and get-togethers planned across the Island, for today and into tomorrow which have been much looked forward to.
It is a difficult ‘ask’, but we appeal to the organisers of events large and small to please postpone their events, in the interest of the wider community.
At this stage, we have stopped short of making this a legal requirement. It is however our clear advice, and I know that the majority of people due to attend events, and the organisers of them, will want do the right thing.
This is, we believe, an agile, sensible and practical response to an unfolding situation.
It is too early to say what the next steps will be.
We can all imagine scenarios where further cases emerge as a result of our contact tracing – and where they do not.
Speculation will not help, but the public can be assured we are watching the situation very closely indeed, and will consider options and make decisions in the best interest of our people at every stage.
Council of Ministers heard the views of senior officers including our Director of Public Health this morning.
Making a decision at short notice, is an unwelcome task. Ministers gave their views and all were considered.
We are well aware of the pros and cons of any course of action. These have to be weighed, but ultimately a decision must be made.
As Chief Minister, I like to hear the bottom line, with no frills.
Our Director of Public Health made it crystal clear that the latest two positive cases indicate potential transmission in the community – the one thing Government and the Great Manx Public have worked so hard to prevent.
Dr Ewart used the analogy of a moorland fire. When you have done your best to put it out, there is usually a period of uncertainty when it may break through again.
That is where we are at present.
We are on top of our contact tracing, working forwards and backwards.
We are reaching and testing all close contacts of the cases without delay.
Those who need to are self-isolating.
We have advised the public to stay home and avoid meeting with others while we work to contain any potential spread.
We will keep everyone informed as soon as we have further information.
Until then, we ask for your support in following the advice given today, to exercise vigilance, maintain good hygiene – and look out for others who may not be able as you are, to adapt to a rapidly changing situation.