Coronavirus: Hand sanitiser stocks run low

JERSEY is running low on hand sanitiser, as Islanders home and abroad look to protect themselves against further spread of the deadly coronavirus.

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However, the government is advising those concerned to wash their hands with soap and water, while Health Minister Richard Renouf moved to reassure Islanders earlier this week that his department were as prepared as they could be should the disease reach Jersey.

Three St Brelade parishioners have been locked in their Tenerife hotel since Tuesday and have spoken about the strain of not knowing how the unfolding emergency will affect them.

Sally Batho, Sue Clement-Jones and Sheila Ruane are still waiting for news of whether they will be permitted to leave the H10 Costa Adeje Palace Hotel.

Mrs Batho said yesterday that she and her friends were awaiting an update following a meeting between British consular officials and the local authorities in Tenerife.

‘As far as the hotel is concerned, they seem to think we’ll be here for 14 days from last Tuesday, but it seems there might be an alternative plan,’ she said. ‘We have spoken to the [Jersey] Health Department and they were very helpful, but couldn’t tell us what will happen next.

‘We feel very vulnerable – we are eating meals in the hotel restaurant, it’s very crowded and doesn’t seem like the best place to stay germ-free. We’d hope that we would be able to go home, where our family and friends are, and do our isolation there.’

A Health Department spokeswoman said medical specialists had been in contact with affected Islanders in Tenerife and would contact them again today.

Pharmacies in Jersey have reported high sales of hand-sanitising gels, with existing stocks running low.

‘Hand sanitisers are selling out as soon as we receive any – the disruption in ferry services hasn’t helped,’ said Simon Wall of Boots. ‘We are still receiving small amounts of stock, but official advice is to wash hands with hot water and soap and only use hand sanitiser if facilities are unavailable.’

Sara Kynicos, pharmacy manager for the Channel Islands Co-operative Society, said: ‘Nearly all our pharmacies now have low stock of alcohol hand gel. We are working with our supply team to order more of the product and expect a delivery early next week.’

There have currently been 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK but so far none in the Channel Islands. The Health Department has stressed the importance of good hygiene measures and for those who have been to affected areas to follow the recommended course of action. Information is available on the gov.je/coronavirus webpage or by calling the designated helpline on 445566.

The Government of Jersey has confirmed that Islanders who are unable to work because they are having to self-isolate can claim Short-Term Incapacity Allowance of £222 per week.

Some employers may continue to pay staff who are unable to come to work. Employment law specialist Lindsay Edwards-Thatcher said that although there was no legal obligation for an employer to pay those who had been told not to come to work as a result of self-isolation, she hoped most employers would look after their staff.

‘If an employee went away over half-term to an area that had no known coronavirus at that time, the employer should accept that they had travelled in all innocence and make arrangements for them to work from home, if they have the type of job where that is possible,’ she said. ‘For employees who cannot work because their job requires them to be physically present, you would hope the employer would use good faith and pay the employee.’

Ms Edwards-Thatcher said that those intending to travel to affected areas in the future needed to make their own risk assessment.

‘We make risk assessments all the time in everyday life,’ she added. ‘I had a holiday booked next month to an affected area, but I have cancelled it because I don’t want to take the risk – I am self-employed and would suffer financially if I became ill or was unable to return to Jersey because of an alert.’

The Education Department has written to schools highlighting the measures that should be taken, stressing that these are the same as recommendations from the Health Department to all Islanders.

Some students from De La Salle College who were in Tenerife over half-term have been advised to self-isolate. The school said the number affected was small, and that none of those affected had shown any symptoms.

Head of college Jason Turner sent a letter to parents emphasising the importance of good hygiene practices and said that a deep-clean regime had been instigated, focused on areas where the students who were now self-isolating had spent time earlier this week.

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