James buys a coffee from Lindsey at Noa Bakehouse in Douglas
James buys a coffee from Lindsey at Noa Bakehouse in Douglas Credit: Michael Josem Credit: Michael Josem

If no new cases are detected from an unknown source by Sunday, the Isle of Man will officially defeat COVID-19 again. The 28-day stretch of no cases from unknown sources will mean the Isle of Man has again achieved what is widely considered to be the official benchmark for eliminating COVID-19 from the community.

The last COVID-19 case from an unidentified source was found on the Isle of Man, on 2 May, 2021, and 28 days from 2 May will be Sunday, 30 May 2021. The Isle of Man was officially COVID-free for around six months in the second half of 2020, and for a few days in February 2021. However, the February COVID-free status ended with more cases arising from the Isle of Man Cabinet Office’s errors, miscommunications and mistakes leading to a third lockdown in March & April 2021.

2020: Government declares eradication not possible, days before eradication achieved

In 2020, the Isle of Man was able to locally eliminate COVID-19, against the Isle of Man Government’s stated expectation of maintaining “low levels of [the virus] in one way or another”, and despite the so-called ‘experts’ in the Isle of Man Government saying that local eradication was “nothing but a dream”.

On 12 May, 2020, Health Minister David Ashford famously declared that “eradication, really, to be frank, is off the table”. Just 8 days later, on 20 May, 2020, the last local transmission of COVID-19 was identified during the first wave of Coronavirus on the Isle of Man, leading to its local eradication.

“Being blunt, eradication would be a dream. But unfortunately, it is a dream. This is a virus and until we’ve got a vaccine against that, eradication, really, to be frank, is off the table, the only way you would even possibly be able to consider eradicating on the island is if you locked everyone up for 21 days to make absolutely sure, not only if they got over the incubation period, but over the virus itself. And you shut the borders completely. So nobody came in or out of the island, that would be the only way you would ever go and see a complete eradication. So nothing in, nothing out. And that complete and also locked down with nobody moving for 21 days. That’s not practical. You know, with a virus there is going to be low levels of it in one way or another.”

David Ashford saying that eradication of COVID-19 is not possible in a public media briefing on 12 May, 2020.

February 2021: Eradication achieved a second-time, leading to global media tour ahead of third lockdown

In February 2021, the COVID-19 virus was eradicated from the Isle of Man a second-time, around the same time that Chief Minister Howard Quayle infamously went on a global media tour trumpeting his achievements.

Days later, as a result of mistakes, errors and miscommunication by the Chief Minister’s own department, the Isle of Man Cabinet Office, there was a new, third, outbreak of COVID-19 on the Isle of Man. This third outbreak led to a third lockdown, exacerbated by the Isle of Man Government’s slow initial rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines, with the Government repeatedly and mistakenly declaring that vaccine administration was “not a race“.

Michael Josem is a long-term consumer advocate, most prominently as a global leader in combating fraud in the online gambling industry. He was in part the inspiration for the 20th Century Fox Movie, Runner Runner, starring Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake.

Josem has over a decade of experience as a senior business leader working across various high-tech and online industries, and takes action to build a better community. His primary volunteer roles include service for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and Graih, the homelessness charity.