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Minister Ashford's Statement on COVID-19 - 1 May 2020

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The first day of May and we are now entering into the third month of our response to Covid-19. For many people in our community it has been a deeply worrying, stressful and concerning time. But all of the actions you have been taking have been helping us day in and day out in our battle against this vicious non-discriminatory virus. So thank for all that you have been doing and continue to be doing. It is you and your actions that are making the difference and keeping our island community safe.

Before the coronavirus pandemic changed our world, by now we’d be seeing the 2020 visitor season well underway; enjoying the many lovely events organised by communities around the Island each Spring; and of course, we’d be in the midst of the big build-up to TT with all the frenetic activity that involves – as the festival would only have been a few weeks away.

Life has changed immeasurably. The seasons are the same. But what comes and goes with them – now and for the foreseeable future - is different or no longer there.

We have come together as a community in the most extraordinary circumstances, to face a global health emergency.

You – the public - have accepted the many changes required to meet that challenge.

Your willingness to live within the restrictions we have imposed has been exemplary and is very much appreciated.

Your ‘buy-in’ to our collective effort to flatten the curve, protect the health service and save lives has been outstanding.

I once again want to thank everyone for their efforts so far.

I’m delighted to be joined again today by the Chief Executive of the Department of Health & Social Care Kathryn Magson, who will be giving you an update on our current position.

But first, today’s Covid-19 statistics:

The total number of tests undertaken stands at 3228

The total number of concluded tests stands at 3149

The number of outstanding test results is 79

The total number of confirmed cases stands at 316 that means there have been 1 new case since yesterday’s update

The presumed recovered now stands at 271

Leaving 23 active cases.

But it is with deepest sadness that I must announced a further death in our community bringing the total community deaths to 17 and the total deaths to 22. This horrendous disease has yet again left a family without their loved one. Every death strikes at the very heart of our community and touches each and everyone of us and I wish to extend my deepest sympathies and condolences to their family and friends.

Turning to the main part of the briefing. Our approach to containing coronavirus on the Island has been informed throughout by the advice of our senior clinicians.

Data is a key driver. Data informs those clinical decisions, and ultimately the direction taken by government – in what we believe are the best interests of the public.

I promised at a previous briefing that we would publish our data and allow access to our daily statistics dating back to the 17 March, two days before the Island’s first positive case.

I am happy to say that this information is now live on the Government’s Covid-19 website.

You can access this by visiting and navigating to the Open Data page. A link to this page has been added below today’s statistics on the Covid-19 website.

The data is available in a number of spreadsheet and web-based formats and can be freely used and distributed.

Those wishing to do so must first read our Open Data Government Licence. A link to this is on the Open Data webpage.

So why is this good? And how can it be utilised? Well, it’s good because it is yet another avenue for Government to be open and transparent about how this virus is spreading.

It also gives you the opportunity to pick the information that is most important and relevant to you. You can chart the statistics across the entire outbreak and distribute it however you wish.

This could be for business use in staff emails or on your company website or your own social media feed, for example. Perhaps it will even find its way into school projects!

The information is accurate and will be updated on a daily basis.

The data follows the format we give out daily such as concluded tests, confirmed cases, negative tests, pending results, pending tests and deaths relating to Covid-19 in the Isle of Man. We will continue to announce the most up-to-date daily stats at these briefings.

That’s all from me for now. So I will now hand over to the Chief executive Officer at the Department of Health and Social Care Kathryn Magson.

Thank you Kathryn, I’ll now take questions from the media.

Turning now to today’s shout outs:

You will have heard the Chief Minister say many times that our battle with coronavirus is a marathon, not a sprint.  One local athlete - Christian Varley - has taken the message to heart and has set himself the challenge of attempting to run 19 marathons in 19 consecutive days.  This is in aid of the Manx Solidarity Fund.

Christian started his first marathon today at 12 noon, where he was flagged off from Peel Castle by the Lieutenant Governor, His Excellency Sir Richard Gozney.

Today's route takes Christian out of Peel along the Douglas road to the War Memorial on Douglas prom and back. He will be running a different route around the Island each day.

Christian is “going big” and aiming to raise £19,000. His epic challenge epitomises the Manx spirit of resilience, perseverance and determination.  Well done Christian and good luck.  The Island is cheering you on.

To date the Manx Solidarity Fund has raised over £215,000 – my thanks to everyone involved with this very worthy project and also to those who have given so generously.

   Secondly today, we have Wayne and the rest of the hospital maintenance team. They have been doing long hours over the last couple of months helping to get the hospital ready for the pandemic. Wayne and the team have to go on the COVID wards from time to time to undertake maintenance and Wayne and the team go the extra mile to help.  Thank you Wayne and everyone involved with maintaining our health and social care estate and equipment.

Also a request for a shout-out for the volunteers of Arbory and Rushen Connect. This Community Support group was set up by Arbory and Rushen Commissioners as a response to the Covid 19 crisis. 110 volunteers have registered to help and around 200 people are receiving direct help with shopping, prescription collections, pension collections, letter posting, dog walking and the like. 40 volunteers check routes in the parishes three times a week, with households using traffic-light coloured cards displayed prominently in parishioners windows.

Two volunteers stand out in particular, who have helped with a resident who has really struggled during this time. Someone who has no family here, lives alone, has various health issues and has had to self-isolate.  She was scared and confused and alone. Rachel Cringle has been visiting the resident three times a week, chats to her, helps her with shopping and other jobs and alerts the commissioners to additional needs the lady has when she personally cannot help.  She has gone above and beyond what is expected of her.  She organised for another volunteer, Andrew Titley to walk the lady’s dog daily.  This support has helped with the lady’s physical needs but just as importantly lifted the lady’s spirits immensely. 

To Rachael, Andrew and everyone volunteering with Arbory and Rushen Connect.  Thank you.  A truly amazing story of the amazing community sprit we enjoy on our Island.

Finally a big shout out to all of the staff at Castle View Nursing Home in Peel. They have all been working exceptionally hard to ensure the safety of their residents during this difficult time. I also believe they have a very special occasion tomorrow. One of their residents is turning 104, so a special birthday shout out to Elizabeth Kissack many happy returns on your remarkable milestone tomorrow Elizabeth.

Thank you everyone and the Minister for Education will be joining you tomorrow.