Patrick Armstrong, who was made an MBE in the latest honours list for his work fighting the virus, said that the Island was at ‘a fairly critical point’ as Covid-19 cases increase in the UK and in Jersey.
While transmission of the virus within the community remains low – the majority of cases have been detected among those entering the Island and their contacts – Mr Armstrong warned that this might not last without the co-operation of the population.
‘We are watching really carefully and it is concerning to see the numbers going up. We are not seeing community transmission but that might just be not yet. What I would say is that a lot of it remains in the hands of Islanders in terms of the way that they behave.
‘We don’t want to be in the position of the UK where you can only meet with six people and things are getting closed down again. I think we could avoid getting to that but everyone needs to take the measures seriously,’ he said.
Mr Armstrong said that Jersey had a number of advantages as it continued to fight to contain the virus, particularly being able to control people coming into the Island through the Airport and the Harbour with the widely-praised testing regime which, he said, was the most intensive in Europe when measured as a proportion of the population.
But he added that individuals had a crucial part to play if the Island was to avoid the need in the future for more intrusive controls which could then impact on the economy.
‘The vast majority of people in Jersey do take it seriously and are compliant but perhaps there are others who think, “How can I get around the rules?” rather than looking at that sense of personal responsibility and asking, “What can I do?”.
‘Ultimately, if it starts to spread and more measures come into place, it impacts on people’s lives, as we’ve seen in the hospitality sector. Those are people who have spent years building up businesses and they just disappear. We can all, if we follow the measures and behave in the way we should, help protect our fellow Islanders by what we do,’ Mr Armstrong said, repeating advice on hygiene and social distancing.
Although the Nightingale Hospital has yet to receive its first patient, Mr Armstrong said that it provided the option, should the need arise, to move Covid-19 patients away from the General Hospital – except those requiring intensive care – so that the regular appointments and operations could continue for as long as possible.