The public are being encouraged to continue playing their part in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19 with a focus on hands, face, space and fresh air and taking part in the ongoing vaccination programme.
The Council of Ministers is continuing to closely monitor the number of COVID-19 cases on the Island and has met twice this week to discuss the situation.
A new sub-committee of the Council of Ministers – the National COVID Response Group – has been formed to monitor the ongoing situation and will meet regularly, together with key advisers, to discuss the best way forward.
The evolving situation will be closely monitored and the Chief Minister will consider whether to hold a COVID-19 briefing next week.
The latest data from the Public Health Surveillance Report shows that cases on the Island are increasing and, similarly to the UK, are largely focused on younger age groups. Whilst children and young people generally experience either no or only mild symptoms, the potential risk of onwards transmission to more vulnerable groups remains a concern.
Director of Public Health, Dr Henrietta Ewart, said:
'I understand that the public may be concerned with the increase in cases over the last week. As we move into the winter months we will see an increase in COVID cases as well as other respiratory illnesses such as flu and the common cold.
'Please use a face covering when in crowded and enclosed spaces – particularly with people you do not usually mix with; wash your hands thoroughly and regularly; keep your distance when in crowded places; and allow fresh air into indoor spaces. These basics steps, with which we have all become so familiar over the last year and half, continue to offer some of the best protection, helping to limit the spread of the virus and keep our Island community safe.'
Dr Ewart added:
'Our best defence against COVID-19 remains our vaccination programme. We must not become complacent: the roll out of boosters to those most vulnerable to the virus and expanding vaccines to those aged 12 to 17 year olds are vital steps in maintaining our Island's resilience against the virus. Likewise, those who are eligible for the flu vaccine – which includes all school aged children – should take part when offered.'
'I would also encourage the public to continue to carry out regular testing, twice a week, using lateral flow devices. These are available online or at local pharmacies free of charge. They are quick and easy to use and will help to detect cases as soon as possible, helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19.'