Covid case spike ‘must be taken into account’

A RECENT spike in Covid-19 cases ‘must be taken into account’ when deciding whether to proceed with Jersey’s reconnection roadmap ‘as planned’, the deputy medical officer of health has warned – after the Island experienced its first community transmissions in months.

Dr Ivan Muscat. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (31015461)
Dr Ivan Muscat. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (31015461)

Dr Ivan Muscat said that there were now 14 active cases in the Island, many of which had been detected over the weekend. Ten were identified through the border testing system in addition to four community transmissions directly linked to the known inbound travellers.

The RNLI has announced that four lifeguards from its Jersey team had tested positive and that it had temporarily withdrawn its lifeguard service from Plémont.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Jersey Consumer Council, Carl Walker, has raised concerns about the pricing of private PCR tests and the impact they could have on the budgets of families hoping to travel.

Dr Muscat said that one of the infected individuals had been fully vaccinated for two weeks, while the others had either not been vaccinated, only received one dose or not yet had time for their second jab to take full effect.

‘What we are seeing here is that unvaccinated people seem more likely to get infected, but they tend to be – as we have seen in the UK – younger people, and young people tend not to develop such severe disease,’ he said.

However, Dr Muscat reiterated the importance of Islanders attending their vaccination appointments and continuing to follow the public health guidance.

When asked why the spike had occurred, Dr Muscat explained: ‘There are two main reasons for this: one is that there has been a significant increase in the number of travellers – I believe since the 26th of April we have had something like 27,000 people arriving.

‘The other is that when you do find a positive case you obviously have to go through contact tracing, and contact [tracing] tends to have a higher instance of Covid than non-contact, so you find more cases as a result of reacting to a positive case.’

The news comes at a delicate time for the government’s Covid-19 response, with the next stage of Jersey’s reconnection roadmap – which is when nightclubs and festivals will be allowed to return – scheduled for 14 June.

Dr Muscat said: ‘It is certainly something that must be taken into account when determining whether to go ahead as planned or alter the original plan.’

However, Dr Muscat also said it was ‘reassuring’ that all four non-travel-related cases had a known source, as that meant there was not ‘free-floating’ Covid in the community.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the UK is considering delaying its next reconnection date by a fortnight, following concerns over the rate of transmission of new virus strains such as the so-called Indian variant.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to make a formal announcement on Monday (14 June) about whether England’s restrictions could be eased on 21 June.

In the States yesterday Chief Minister John Le Fondré said that Competent Authorities Ministers were due to meet to discuss Jersey’s situation ahead of 14 June.

He added: ‘Obviously the numbers that were reported over the weekend were the result of 7,000 tests so again the number of positive cases that came out of that were very, very, very low.

‘Therefore it goes back to that point all the way through about maintaining a balance of risk – it’s about suppressing the

virus and making sure that services do not get overwhelmed in conjunction with what has been a successful vaccination programme.

‘We are monitoring the position – we know we have got the emergency brake in place.’

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