Islanders warned that Jersey could be heading for another lockdown – as active cases top 100

JERSEY is at a ‘critical point’ and Islanders are running out of chances to avoid a UK-style second lockdown, health officials have warned.

Dr Ivan Muscat                                                           Picture: ROB CURRIE. (29566344)
Dr Ivan Muscat Picture: ROB CURRIE. (29566344)

The number of known active cases has now exceeded 100 for the first time since the first wave – and health bosses say that unless people take action now and adhere to safety measures severe restrictions will be unavoidable.

They stress that there is still time to avert a lockdown but at a press conference yesterday deputy medical officer of health Dr Ivan Muscat said that unless Islanders stuck rigidly to all the guidelines ‘harsher and stronger measures will need to be instigated’.

The government further reiterated the current guidelines of wearing masks in indoor public spaces and practising physical distancing where possible.

And Chief Minister John Le Fondré warned that too many were not following the rules and that continuing to do so might lead to another lockdown.

He said: ‘I want us to avoid draconian measures. We will not reintroduce any restrictions lightly. But we will act swiftly and in a targeted way if necessary.

‘If we don’t change our behaviour, then our case numbers will increase and we face the real possibility of ending up in a lockdown. Just like the UK moved into yesterday and France moved into earlier than that.

This is not a position that any Islanders want to be in. Where we risk being unable to see friends and family over the Christmas period.’

Dr Muscat said most new cases were among Islanders rather than holiday or business travellers.

He also said residents were now observing the rules on handwashing and social distancing less strictly than in the spring.

‘Many people still believe we are in blissful summer and are not aware of the realities of winter,’ he said.

Senator Le Fondré added: ‘We need to get back into that mindset of acting responsibly.’

He said the sign that we had tipped over the edge and were heading for lockdown would not be revealed just by the figures for new cases.

‘It’s not about one number or factor. It’s about the analysis of certain trends that are coming through, and further down the line hospital admissions.’

Dr Muscat pointed out that the ‘dynamic nature’ of the virus, with cases coming and going, made it impossible to estimate how many undetected cases there were.

But the emergence of clusters of cases, particularly among children and young adults, was a worrying sign. New cases have been reported among sixth-formers.

Yesterday it was confirmed that more new cases of Covid-19 has been confirmed at JCG sixth form. This week, several confirmed cases across the sixth forms of both JCG and Victoria College have been confirmed, with one year group having been sent home. JCG remains open.

Dr Muscat advised against specific measures within schools, or parents withdrawing their children. ‘It’s not the school setting. It’s simply that age group socialising together,’ he said.

Senator Le Fondré added: ‘Young people can have a significant impact, with physical contact between boyfriend and girlfriend or people sharing drinks or vapes.

‘Young people need to know that they can get Covid, and that even if they don’t have any symptoms themselves they can pass it on to older relatives. They could pass it on to a grandmother or grandfather and, worse still, lead to their death.’

And he warned several cases could be tracked back to Halloween parties.

The Chief Minister added: ‘I want to address all young people in Jersey directly and say simply and starkly. You can catch Covid-19 and if you do, you will spread it to your friends and family. You may not have symptoms, but you could infect someone that will.

‘While your lives may not be at high risk from Covid-19, that of your family, and especially your older relatives is.

‘Please think how devastating it would be for you, and your family, if you were to infect your grandmother or grandfather and, worse still, lead to their deaths.

‘While many will change their behaviour and act sensibly, we know that some will not – which is why we have introduced and used enforcement powers. We are aware of house parties that have taken place. We are aware of beach parties that are planned. We will be monitoring and acting when they are putting our island at risk.’

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