Testing strategy changes confirmed

CHANGES to the Island's testing strategy aimed at focusing on the rising number of active symptomatic cases have been confirmed by the government, with a new one-test regime for direct contacts and for arriving passengers.

Dr Ivan Muscat. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (31286153)
Dr Ivan Muscat. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (31286153)

Deputy medical officer of health Dr Ivan Muscat said the intention was to focus testing capacity on where it was most needed. Around 30% of those who were tested after showing symptoms subsequently tested positive, he said, in contrast to positivity rates for other groups:

- Less than 1% of arriving passengers test positive, so there will only be one test – on arrival – for arriving passengers and recent arrivals will have their day eight tests cancelled. The exception is for those who have a travel history which includes a territory on the UK's red-list - such passengers will face a mandatory ten days' isolation, including three tests.

- Between 6% and 7% of direct contacts test positive – from now on direct contacts will only face one test after being identified and contacted by track-and-trace officials. The latest figures show almost 10,000 Islanders have been identified as direct contacts.

- Around 2% of those taking PCR tests as part of the workforce testing programme test positive – from now on the workforce programme will only use lateral flow tests.

'There is more virus in the community, so the finite nature of the track-and-trace system has come into play and we are redirecting [capacity] in order to suppress rather than contain the virus,' Dr Muscat said.

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