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Speech by Health and Social Care Minister - 7 April 2020

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Before I move onto the detail of today’s briefing I have a short statement I wish to make. 

The Chief Minister has developed mild symptoms of Covid19.  

As a precaution he immediately self-isolated and dialled 111.  

In line with the advice he received he attended the testing centre earlier this afternoon and was tested and is awaiting the results.  

The Chief Minister is working as normal remotely from home and continues to chair National Strategy Group and the Council of Ministers.  

It is important to emphasise that he is displaying mild symptoms and he remains in full control of the day to day running of the Government.  

Moving to the main part of the briefing.  

The safety of health and care staff, our front line workers in the battle against coronavirus, is an absolute priority. Without staff doing their jobs, we will not win the battle. 

As mentioned briefly yesterday the NSC main sports hall is currently serving as our storage centre. Over the weekend a large consignment of equipment – including medical devices and other equipment – arrived in the Island and was unloaded, checked and prepared for dispatch.  

So through last week staff from DOI and across the Government prepared to receive and manage the goods, and the building up of a growing storage base. 

It was largely a logistics exercise, as knowing what exactly we’ve got, who it’s been allocated to and ‘making ready’ for deliveries and dispatches is what will make this an efficient operation.  

Equipment is being sourced from around the world. From the scramble to get hold of supplies at the start of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe, things have settled down a bit.  

We have orders with reliable suppliers. We are using contacts, forging new ones. Our needs are the same as any other part of the British Isles, but getting supplies safely in place, ready for transportation across the water to our Island, adds another link to the supply chain, with obvious pitfalls. 

I am extremely proud of our team at DHSC who with the support of DfE and the Cabinet Office have searched far and wide relentlessly, to get their hands on what we need. They have done a magnificent job. 

It isn’t just a case of putting in an order, it’s following up, forging trusting relations with suppliers that make the difference when push comes to shove. 

I’ve talked often about the need to flatten our curve. To prevent our NHS being overwhelmed. And in order to predict what the demand on the hospital will look like we have modelled a number of different scenarios. Those that are watching us on the life stream will see a graph. The blue line is what is likely to happen if we do not control the virus and has happened in other parts of the world.  

The red line is our realistic planning assumption in DHSC. This is being monitored carefully over the coming days and weeks in order to predict the likely outcome of the measures agreed by Council of Ministers.   

In order to achieve this planning assumption and the optimal position below (the orange line) this will require everyone to continue to follow stringent guidelines regarding staying at home and social distancing, and ultimately help ensure our health and care services are able to cope with the demand.  

The crosses on the green line represent the number of cases that we have actually had.  

I will ensure that this graph is released on social media after the conclusion of this press conference and updated daily.   

Again we will release that on social media after the press conference.   

In my speech this afternoon in Tynwald, I stated that we are strengthening our armour against this virus. The work I have outlined above is some of the work that we can do. But you can help us. Stay inside, social distance, strengthen our armour, let’s hit that orange curve.  

Local printing company, Words and Spaces has adapted its digital die-cutter to make acetate facial visors to be used at Noble’s Hospital. Using acetate they had in stock they are working, free of charge, with who are making the frames. These will be delivered to Noble’s as soon as possible.   

The digital die-cutter can make one visor every 30 seconds – with all the necessary standards and checks in place.   

I would like to give a shout out to Laxey Lifeline. This community based group is a central point for all information relating to Garff residents – help with shopping, updates, a friendly voice!  

Set up early on in the current Coronavirus measures by 3 local residents – the group has over 400 members and is growing all the time. The group have also been working with Laxey Commissioners. Full of useful information and support – the group can be contacted by email, by calling 474747 or through their Facebook page LaxeyLifeline.   

Also the IOM Community Meals Donations   

Delivering on average 30-35 meals a day around the island, this small group, run by Sammi and her husband Gareth, started when she realised that vulnerable or elderly people needed support with pre-made meals. There is no cost for the dinners but the group rely on donations to run this non-profit support group. They have had a lot of support from the community and I know the meals have been greatly appreciated and received.