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Minister Ashford's Statement on COVID-19 - 8 April 2020

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Good afternoon, everyone. 

I will shortly hand over to Chief Constable Gary Roberts who will provide an overview of how the Isle of Man Constabulary is dealing with the additional demand on its resources and the unique challenges presented by the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Our police officers are another example of the dedicated professionals who are working tirelessly to protect our community, to support our vulnerable citizens and to ensure the Island remains a safe place to live. 

On behalf of the people of the Isle of Man, I wish to thank them for their service. 

Firstly, I would like to give you the latest testing figures. 

Since the last update at 10 o’clock this morning, there have been no further confirmed positive tests for coronavirus, so the overall total remains at 158. 

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

There have been 1,541 concluded tests, 283 people are awaiting results and 53 awaiting tests. 

82 individuals are presumed to have recovered from the virus. 

To everyone who is in Noble’s Hospital or recovering at home, I wish you strength and fortitude. 

As you know, the Chief Minister is experiencing mild symptoms and is currently self-isolating at home as a precaution. 

He is continuing to lead the Isle of Man Government’s response to the pandemic and this morning chaired a video meeting of the National Strategy Group. 

The Government’s response includes taking delivery this week of 65,000 face masks. 

These masks will be put to use immediately as part of the Personal Protective Equipment worn by our colleagues working on the frontline of the Island’s health and emergency services. 

Make no mistake… this deadly virus has nations around the world in its grip. 

It is among us here in the Isle of Man and will remain so for some time. 

Now is not the time to be complacent. 

We must redouble our efforts. We must ensure that Noble’s Hospital is not overburdened. 

We must flatten the curve that I spoke about yesterday and ensure that our outstanding health workers can continue to help the people most in need. 

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who is playing their part by staying at home. Those who are putting the common good ahead of personal interest.

It is tough. People are understandably frightened. We are missing our loved ones. But social distancing remains the most effective way of breaking the chain. 

Self-discipline is key, particularly as we approach the holiday weekend. 

Easter is traditionally a time of hope, of renewal, of starting afresh. 

This year we must celebrate in a different way. 

The weather may be improving, but this devastating disease is still spreading. 

Do not be tempted to deviate from the guidance issued by our medical experts. 

Save lives. Stay at home. 

If you do go out to exercise remember to stay at least two metres away from other people at all times. Do not gather in groups. 

We must remain resolute and good-humoured in the face of this invisible enemy. 

Together we will turn the tide. 

I will now hand over to the Chief Constable for an update on how the police are serving the Island during these difficult times.  

Thank you to the Chief Constable and to our friends in the media. 

I would like to round off today’s media briefing with shout-outs to some unsung heroes in the community and by introducing a new video. 

The first shout-out goes to The People of Peel support group. This valued community organisation has been in existence since 2011 and has almost 2,000 members. It offers a wide range of help and information for our friends in the west of the Island. 

The group is currently providing online pilates classes, some uplifting photographs, the new opening times for the Post Office and details of delivery services offered by local restaurants. 

One particularly eye-catching image is a picture taken of Peel Promenade taken yesterday afternoon at 3pm. On a lovely sunny day, the Prom is deserted. Nobody is out. Everyone is staying at home and saving lives. Brilliant – well done Peel.

Our second shout-out goes to Corinthians Football Club, which has donated the magnificent sum of £1,000 to the Isle of Man Food Bank. The club made the donation to support those in need and to raise awareness of those requiring help during these difficult times, using the hashtag #bekind. The Food Bank is grateful for the club’s support and is hoping that we can all show COVID-19 the red card very soon.

Another nomination for a shout-out has come from a pregnant woman whose husband is employed at the power station. He is working long shifts, while continuing to support his wife and their disabled son. He is her hero… along with the team at Manx Utilities and at the power station who are helping to keep the Island running.

Thank you to all these people and to everyone else who is rising to the challenge on behalf of our nation.

I know many viewers have found the videos featuring our Health and Social Care colleagues and the people in the community who are keeping the Island moving to be powerful and inspiring. 

The following clip highlights the vital contribution made by our emergency workers. 

Please take a moment to watch the video and reflect on the important messages. 

That brings to an end today’s media briefing. 

Please remain at home, take care and stay safe.