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Minister Ashford's Statement on COVID-19 - 15 May 2020

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Good afternoon everyone.

Before we begin I will give you todays statistics:

The total number of tests undertaken is 4032

The total number of concluded tests is 3998

The number of outstanding test results is 34

The total number of confirmed cases stands at 334

That means there has been 2 new case since yesterday’s update

There are now 21 active cases.

It is also with great sadness that I must confirm a further death from this dreadful disease. Sometimes it is too easy to hear the statistics each day and view them as just that, statistics. But behind each of those numbers there is a human story. We must never forget that and every single death must give us pause for thought and reflection on how this virus has hit directly at the heart of another family and deprived them of a loved one. My thoughts are with their family and friends at this exceptionally difficult time.

Throughout these regular coronavirus briefings we have endeavoured to bring you a number of guests. This has meant that we can go in to more detail on the ways coronavirus is affecting our Island and how we are responding to these challenges.

Many people in our community have found themselves working from home. The way that organisations and individuals have responded to the need for home working has been, quite frankly, phenomenal.

It has meant that large parts of our economy and our public services have been able to continue with day to day business – almost – as usual.

It shows how technology and, in particular, broadband internet has transformed our working lives. It enables us to work in different locations, on different and often multiple devices, at times that suit us.

The impact on our economy and people’s livelihoods as a result of COVID-19 is significant.

But had this virus hit 20 or even 10 years ago, I doubt so many parts of our economy and so many of our public services would have been able to remain operational through home working.

Despite the fortunate situation we find ourselves in with our ability to work from home, it is not without risks.

Before becoming Minister for Health and Social Care, I was political member in the Cabinet Office, and my remit covered cyber security and the development of the Island’s National Cyber Security Strategy.

Cyber security has been a hot topic in recent years, and we need only keep track of current affairs to see why.

Whether it is cyber-attacks this month, targeted at two construction companies involved in building the Nightingale Hospitals; or a recent vulnerability found in Microsoft Teams that could be triggered via animated GIFs: it is all too easy to see why cyber security is something all of us need to be conscious of.

And this is not just about our work lives either. Cyber security has never been so important in our personal lives as well. From online shopping and banking, to keeping our digital devices secure and social media accounts safe. Cyber security affects us all.

Today I am delighted to be joined by Joanne Roberts, Director of the Office of Cyber Security and Information Assurance and I will now hand over to Jo. Jo, over to you.

Thank you Jo. Thought-provoking and I think what you have said hammers home the message of just how importance education and awareness are in the battle to keep our own data but also our national infrastructure and our economy safe in the digitally-dependent era.

I will now take questions.

Before I finish I would like to do some shout-outs for Howard’s Heroes.

The first shout out for today is for local company GoGreen who have donated P3 respirator masks to Noble’s Hospital – not once, but twice. This really is very much appreciated, and vital in helping to keep our health workers safe. Thank you.

The second shout out is for the Co-op in Port Erin who, along with their customers, raised £900 for the Department of Health and Social Care. The money raised will be split between patient comfort, hospital equipment, and education. Amazing. Well done and thank you.

As Minster for Health & Social Care I would also like to give a personal shout out to the staffing team who have been working exceptionally hard to ensure we continue to recruit frontline staff to the hospital throughout this difficult period. I know some of them have had only 1 day off in the last seven weeks. All of their efforts are very much appreciated and are ensuring our services can continue to operate. So thank you to each and everyone of you.

And finally we’ve had two nominations in for a regular participant in these briefings. Alex Bell from BBC Isle of Man!

Alex recently did a live stream on Facebook playing keyboard and singing requests for 3 hours. And at the conclusion Alex had his head shaved. This magnificent effort raised over £1000 for the Manx Solidarity Fund. Well done Alex.

Just three further examples there today of the individuals and organisations making a huge difference to our community in these challenging times.

That’s all for today. Thank you and stay safe.