An independent report into the circumstances of the outbreak of COVID-19 in February this year in relation to the Steam Packet Company, is published today. The review was conducted at the request of the Chief Minister Howard Quayle and was commissioned in March from Stephen Hind, the director of Treasury’s Audit Advisory division. The final report including its full terms of reference is available online available online.
The Council of Ministers has considered and accepted the report’s findings and recommendations in full.
The Chief Minister said:
‘The difference of opinion that emerged in February as to the Steam Packet’s COVID-19 mitigations was concerning and I therefore asked for a report, to establish the facts. It was important we understood what additional measures were needed to reduce the risk of the virus entering our Island, and to ensure any lessons to prevent a recurrence were learned.
‘We didn’t get everything right, and the report tells us that. We weren’t always as joined-up as we should have been and perhaps inevitably, mistakes were made. However, I am heartened to see that a number of the recommendations for improvement made in the report are already in place. I will ensure that we see through any actions required by government.’
The Chief Minister continued:
‘This is an extensive, analytical report but I accept that there remain unanswered questions - and issues which are for others to answer. I have therefore referred the report to the Isle of Man Ship Registry, to consider whether further investigation is required and if necessary, to refer matters to other agencies. In picking over the detail however, we should remember that this was a period of intense pressure for those involved in the Island’s pandemic response, who were doing their best to serve the public. We will learn from this episode and continue to do our utmost to protect our community.’
The report recognises that the Steam Packet Company is a key element of the Island’s critical infrastructure, and that the safe continuity of passenger and freight services is a priority. It notes that in this pivotal role the company represents a critical ‘Covid risk point’, and acknowledges that prior to the February 2021 outbreak there had not been an outbreak involving the Steam Packet’s Manx crew.
The report’s recommendations focus largely on the importance of having structures in place to effectively manage risk, through systematic assessments, logs, analysis, audits and data sharing. The recommendations include a call for the introduction of regular multi-agency meetings to review the Steam Packet’s Covid management arrangements, and for the company to implement an internal audit of its coronavirus risk management mitigations.
The report concludes that in many areas, the management of risk has already been significantly improved compared to the position at the time of the February outbreak.
The Chief Minister will make a statement on the Report in the House of Keys on Tuesday 25 May.