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Minister Ashford's Statement on COVID-19 - 14 April 2020

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Good afternoon, everyone 

I want to begin by thanking all those who stood in tribute yesterday to the members of our community who have lost their lives to Covid-19. 

The one minute’s silence was impeccably observed, particularly by the Isle of Man Constabulary and in the parish of Arbory where the deaths of Richie Lloyd and David Corkish are most keenly felt. 

During that solemn moment of reflection, my thoughts turned to the words of the two families… 

… families who are experiencing unimaginable pain. 

At a time of great personal loss, they urged everyone to stay strong and do the right thing, so that others don’t suffer the same heartbreak. 

And as we emerge from the Easter holidays, I am encouraged by the fact that the vast majority of our residents are continuing to heed that advice. 

People have been self-disciplined, good-humoured, creative and conscientious. 

The minority who have endangered the community with their selfish and reckless behaviour have been dealt with in robust fashion. 

Several arrests have been made. Two offenders are currently in prison. 

The police dealt with numerous reports of people flouting the law over the Easter weekend. Holding house parties. Meeting friends in parks and on beaches to drink and socialise. 

The irresponsible actions of the few threaten to undermine the sacrifices being made by the many. 

Complacency will cost lives. 

This wicked virus does not discriminate. Youth offers no defence. Neither does wealth or status. Covid-19 impacts all walks of life. 

That is why we must hold our collective nerve and stand firm. 

I will say again… 

… listen to the public health experts, listen to the police, listen to the grieving families. 

Save lives. Stay at home.  

At this point, I would like to give you the latest testing figures. 

Since the last update at 10 o’clock this morning, there have been 12 further confirmed positive tests for coronavirus, taking the overall total to 254. 

126 patients have been instructed to self-isolate and 15 are being treated at Noble’s Hospital. 

There have been 2064 concluded tests, 58 people are awaiting results and 35 are awaiting tests. 

In total, 141 individuals are presumed to have recovered from the virus.  

During today’s virtual sitting of Tynwald I set out how we are planning to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic in the short and medium terms. 

We are looking to the future. We are exploring the possibility of a phased return for certain sectors of our domestic economy – those that can safely comply with strict social distancing rules. 

However, now is not the time to relax our efforts. 

The clinical advice is clear. The current restrictions must remain in place. 

We must protect our community, flatten the curve and ensure that our health service is not overwhelmed.  

Those objectives have also been uppermost in our minds during the planning to repatriate Island residents who are in the UK or further afield. 

We recognise that we cannot help everybody. It is a highly emotive issue and people will be disappointed, angry and upset. 

Our thinking has once again been informed by advice from our clinicians and policy makers. 

The strict guidelines are in place for a very good reason. They will not only protect those wishing to return to the Island, they will safeguard our wider community and our health service. 

Of the 103 applications we have received under the repatriation scheme, 29 met the requirements to be granted a provisional exemption. 

This process will remain under constant review.   

I will shortly hand over to Kathryn Magson, the Chief Executive Officer at the Department of Health and Social Care. 

But first, in my capacity as Minister for Health and Social Care, I want to:

  • Say thank you  
  • Make an appeal and;  
  • Ask for patience  

The thank you is to our health care professionals who continue to display great devotion, courage and compassion. 

Our frontline colleagues are working tirelessly to deliver the highest standards of care to all our patients in extremely challenging circumstances. 

Together with key workers in a range of other essential services, these men and women are spearheading the Island’s response to this pandemic.  

Thank you on behalf of a grateful nation.  

The appeal is to the Island’s amazing group of blood donors. 

We need you to keep your appointments. 

Giving blood saves lives and it is essential that donations continue. 

I appreciate that you may be feeling concerned or uncertain. 

I can reassure you that enhanced safety measures are in place and you will not be breaking any stay-at-home rules. Giving blood is classed as essential travel. 

Please continue to play your part and help our health service at this difficult time. 

My plea for patience relates to the roll-out of glucose monitoring systems for people with Type 1 diabetes. 

We had intended to make the sensors available to eligible patients from the beginning of this month. 

However, as I am sure people will appreciate, our resources are focused on the Island’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Please bear with us. We remain fully committed to the implementation of the glucose monitors and will review the situation in three months’ time.  

I would now like to introduce Kathryn Magson who will provide further insight into the work taking place across the Department of Health and Social Care. 


Thank you, Kathryn.  

As is now customary, I would like to take this opportunity to give some shout-outs to people in our community who are making a positive difference.  

Firstly, I want to highlight all the doctors’ surgeries that are continuing to work hard to support the wellbeing of their patients. The Snaefell surgery in Douglas received a special mention via the hashtag #howardsheros, while the surgical team at Noble’s Hospital would like a shout-out for Mr Peter Duffy on Wards 1 and 2.  

To all the teachers and support teams at the Island’s schools who are looking after the children of key workers. They are continuing to work through the Easter holidays and spend time away from their families to ensure our schools can remain open.  

To the teams at the Department of Infrastructure and Noble’s Hospital who are joining forces to prepare Ward 20 for new admissions.  

A shout-out to Lizzie Main who is running free pilates classes online five days a week, including chair-based exercises for those with mobility issues and illnesses. 

Finally, I would like to mention seven-year-old Holly Foster who is drawing some lovely pictures to brighten up the lives of some of our elderly care home residents.  

Thank you to all our community heroes.  

That brings to an end today’s media briefing. 

Please remain at home, take care and stay safe.