Professor Peter Bradley praised Islanders for helping to keep Covid cases at a ‘steady’ level but warned that a further wave could not be ruled out.
There has yet to be any indication of an adverse effect on case numbers caused by the ending of most remaining restrictions on 26 August and the start of the new school term on 6 September. Changes to Covid-related policy usually take around two weeks before shifts in the statistics appear.
The number of known active cases stood at 262 on 31 August and had fallen to 228 by yesterday.
Meanwhile, senior ministers and civil servants are to be called to give public evidence on the handling of the pandemic as part of a Scrutiny review.
Professor Peter Bradley, who took up his new role in June and who also chairs the Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell, said the approaching winter season would be important for the Island’s efforts to keep on top of both Covid-19 and flu.
He said: ‘Over the last two weeks we’ve had a very steady 30 to 35 new cases [of Covid] per day, which is much lower than the last rise [earlier in the summer].
‘The principle reason is the response of Islanders in behaving in a sensible way – the messages about social distancing and the importance of hand-washing have been heeded, and we’ve also seen a really good response to the vaccination programme, which I hope will continue as we move on to booster doses and vaccination for 12- to 15-year-olds.’
A rise in the number of cases is still possible as the winter draws nearer, Professor Bradley added.
‘Unfortunately, I think there may be a rise – until we reach next spring we won’t really be in position to rule out another wave of infection,’ he said, adding: ‘We are still keeping a very close eye on case numbers and will react to circumstances as necessary, but at the moment there are no signs that we’d need to bring back greater restrictions.’
Professor Bradley urged eligible Islanders to get their flu vaccine when it becomes available in order to avoid the risk of flu and Covid-19 exerting dual pressure on the Island’s healthcare system.
‘Levels of flu were low last year, which may mean that there may be low levels of immunity, so we need to be careful about flu and I hope people will get their flu vaccine.’
Flu vaccines will be offered, free of charge, to Islanders aged 50 and older, and to those in at-risk flu groups, from Monday 18 October, with the prospect of flu and Covid booster vaccines being administered together at the same appointment from that stage.
Booster doses have already started for care home residents and health and social care staff, with the first appointments for over-80s taking place at Fort Regent on Monday.