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Questions raised over border policy as Covid cases arrive by air and sea

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TWO imported cases of Covid-19 within 36 hours have prompted fresh questions about the Island’s new travel policy.

Deputy Kirsten Morel (28779607)

The number of known active cases rose from one on Friday to six yesterday (6 July).

And it was confirmed that one of the 175 passengers on the first Condor sailing after the borders reopened had tested positive after arriving from Poole on Saturday afternoon.

The positive result followed news that an air passenger tested positive after arriving on the Friday evening easyJet flight from Gatwick. Both individuals were asymptomatic.

A government spokesperson said that contact tracing had taken place for 15 travellers sitting in the area of the plane closest to the affected person, and one person who had been in close contact with the ferry passenger.

The 16 people subject to contact tracing are all self-isolating at private residences, and will be subject to another test on the sixth day after travelling.

The spokesperson said that if any of the 16 ‘contacts’ subsequently tested positive, further tracing work would be carried out among people who they had been in close contact with.

One politician who expressed concerns about the proposed testing regime during last week’s debate in the States Assembly said he remained worried.

‘I’m not convinced that the government has adopted the best regime for testing,’ said Deputy Kirsten Morel. ‘It’s good that two positive cases have been picked up, rather than slipping through the net, but I still believe that everyone who arrives should be obliged to self-isolate before they get their result.

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‘Formerly those who arrived [on the essential flights] were tested again after four days and I’m not sure why this was stopped. We should be looking at policies in places like Iceland and Madeira and identifying best practice.’

Deputy Morel said he was worried about Islanders, especially those who were vulnerable, losing confidence in the border arrangements.

As well as the two arriving passengers, two more active cases were confirmed as a result of proactive screening for essential employees, and one other was picked up following a test conducted on a patient being admitted to hospital.

All six of the current active cases have been confirmed to be asymptomatic, with a total of 1,257 tests results having been reported since the previous set of figures was released on Friday.

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The government has not yet clarified the arrangements about how a visitor to the Island would be dealt with in the event of testing positive.

One operator in the holiday rental sector said that some property owners would not accept bookings before getting further details.

In an email to a prospective customer, sent over the weekend and seen by the JEP, the self-catering rental business expressed frustration that clarification had not been provided more than a week after the government first signalled the intention to open the borders.

Keith Beecham, chief executive of Visit Jersey, said his organisation was working with the Jersey Hospitality Association to make sure visitors could be accommodated.

‘All of us want as much clarity as possible for hospitality suppliers, visitors and customers,’ he said. ‘Where this isn’t yet clear, then efforts need to be made to overcome this.

‘Things have been moving quickly and a lot of people in the industry were working hard over the weekend.’

The government said previously that accommodation would be provided for visitors who tested positive and were required to self-isolate, but did not provide any further details yesterday when asked by the JEP.

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