New measures announced to combat coronavirus

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Just hours after Chief Minister John Le Fondré urged Islanders to ‘maintain a semblance of normal life’, a raft of new measures were rolled out following ‘updated modelling’ of how the virus might spread.

The new advice is:

  • All Islanders over 65 immediately practise ‘social distancing’ ‘who are not essential for the running of the Island’s services should they wish to continue carrying out their roles’.
  • Islanders with flu-like symptoms, including a combination of fever, a cough, muscle aches and headaches should self-isolate until they are symptom free (for a minimum of seven days). This applies whether they have travelled outside Jersey or not and is irrespective of contact with a COVID-19 case.
  • Only undertaking essential travel into and out of the Island. Essential travel includes travel for medical and compassionate purposes or travel by key workers required to keep essential services running across the Island.

Outlining the measures, Jersey’s deputy medical officer of health, Dr Ivan Muscat, said: ‘Social distancing is one of the most important things over-65s can do to protect themselves from coronavirus. Within our current model, this specific form of social distancing could save lives by up to 35% in this age group. It will also reduce the demand on the health service.

‘At the same time, we must isolate all those with flu-like symptoms and minimise travel. This advice will help us slow down the virus in Jersey and save lives.’

Earlier on Friday, officials revealed that one in six people in Jersey are classed as being vulnerable to coronavirus.

They added that the Island is ‘three to four weeks’ behind the UK in terms of COVID-19’s stronghold on the community and officials say Jersey can use that to its advantage in learning how best to tackle the problem.

The UK estimates the peak of the virus could hit in up to three months’ time.

Starting yesterday, 17,000 elderly Islanders and those with underlying health conditions – identified as most at risk to the virus – are to be contacted by GPs over the coming days to ensure they get the best health care responsible.

And Caroline Landon, director general of Health, said Jersey’s focus was on ‘flattening the curve’ of virus cases and not completely shutting down the Island.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson compared it to ‘squashing the sombrero’ – spreading out the number of infections over a broader period to prevent a spike which could have a major impact on the health service.

In the UK it is estimated that between 5,000 and 10,000 people may have already contracted the virus. The official figure is less than 800, with ten deaths.

Similar models for Jersey are due to be created in the coming days as well as fresh estimates as to how many people could die, require hospital treatment or end up in intensive care.

Earlier this month, figures were leaked that showed Jersey was preparing for between 12 and 50 deaths in a reasonable worst-case scenario as well as up to 250 hospital admissions and as many as 65 people needing treatment in intensive care.

Mrs Landon said it was an ‘agile’ situation and she anticipated that renewed figures would be shared ‘in the next couple of weeks’. Health Minister Richard Renouf stressed he was confident the Island had enough beds and intensive care unit space to cater for the outbreak.

Advice and guidelines on public events is due to be issued ‘imminently’ and Chief Minister John Le Fondré said major events including Liberation Day were due to be ‘discussed’ as he acknowledged the demographic of people attending had to be a consideration.

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