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Minister Ashford's statement on COVID-19 - 19 June 2020 (1)

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Good afternoon,

Joining me today is Mike Nudd, Deputy Director of the Samaritans Isle of Man. Shortly, Mike will be taking us through how the pandemic has affected people and how his organisation has worked and adapted throughout.

But first today’s stats.

We currently stand at 30 days with no new cases. This week we reached a significant milestone and we officially achieved local elimination of the virus. We now have exceptionally low or zero transmission of the virus within our community.

Now that we find ourselves in this position the main weapon in our arsenal is our border control or as the Chief Minister said yesterday ‘our Manx bubble’. 

This weekend may have a very normal feel to it. There may be drinks and dining with friends. School bags and gym bags will be prepared for the week ahead. Office attire and uniforms will be ironed and laid out.

Conversations will start to change from what you have been eating to what you have been doing and who you met up with. Perhaps the weekly family quiz will become the weekly family get-together - and part of our new normal.

As part of Government’s own gradual return to normal the decision has been taken that from this week we will no longer be publishing statistics over the weekend. This will allow more workers to return to their normal work patterns.

However, the figures will still be monitored and if there is anything significant to report - we will report this as soon as we can - as we have done throughout the pandemic.

These Live briefings from next week will move to being twice a week on Monday and Thursday. The regularity of these will continue to be reviewed – if we need to update vital information outside of these times – again - as always, we will.

The antibody testing program is showing some interesting findings – these will be published after the first 5,000 are completed and this will be towards the end of the month.

We are seeing a handful of people each day requiring a PCR test or as it is sometimes called a swab test - and as the stats show these are returning negative results.

The Chief Minister reminded us yesterday of the impact the virus has had on our community.

Some of the impact cannot be seen, it cannot easily be calculated in numbers – it is a feeling many -  if not all of us -  will have experienced in some form or another over the last weeks and months.

It has been a mental battle. The Island was locked down. People had little interaction with the outside world.

There may be some of you that did not find it too difficult to adapt – but many will have felt anxious, overwhelmed or isolated.

These feelings will still be here – the new normal is just that – new.

Many of you are returning to your place of work, your children are returning school - and without social distancing - shopping trips and daily activities may make you feel anxious.

It is important to remember – whatever it is you are feeling – that it is okay to feel anxious and nervous and you should take things at your own pace. Do what you feel comfortable with. If you don’t feel ready to go out, or see friends or family that’s okay. You need to decide what is right for you.

Some will have suffered a bereavement during the lockdown or struggled financially.

You may have concerns about personal space now that social distancing requirements have been removed. And again this is a normal response. We are all getting used to things.

The work of organisations such as the Samaritans Isle of Man have been there to help many people through trying times. They also have had to adapt during the pandemic.

The mental wellbeing of our community is - and has always been - hugely important and was one of the determining factors on when decisions were made to ease restrictions such as gatherings and recreational activities.

That is why I am very pleased to have Mike here to take us through some of the experiences his organisation has had over the course of the pandemic and to give us an insight into the range of issues that have been affecting people.

I would like to hand over to Mike now.

Thank you Mike and thank you for the work your team and organisation is doing.

There are a number of good resources on our COVID website - We know there will be an increased demand for support as we exit this pandemic. We are gearing up for this.

I would now like to open up to questions. 

Speed limits are returning to normal on Monday. Please be aware of those around you and please continue to drive responsibly.

We are in a great position. We have used Manx solutions for Manx situations. Let’s continue to do this.

Keep good hand hygiene and support our economy by shopping locally.

And remember we must respect each other and be mindful of our collective wellbeing.

As a community we have achieved so much of which we can be rightly proud. Despite all the trials and tribulations and uncertainty that has come with Covid19 I am firmly of the view that we have emerged stronger as a community. It is our community spirit that has carried us through this journey and it will be a community spirit that I believe will continue long after Covid19 has gone.

If we continue to support and care for one another there is nothing that we cannot achieve.

Thank you.