This is a very rough and unverified transcript of the Isle of Man Government’s Coronavirus Media Briefing held on Friday 29 January 2021. In particular, for any legal guidance, you should seek advice from official sources.
You should not rely heavily upon it — it is transcribed by an automated speech recognition service, and I cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any local Manx words (especially in Gaelic) are more likely to be inaccurate. Also, the automated speech recognition service often converts proper nouns incorrectly (especially the spoken words “Isle of Man” to “Ireland” or “all of man”).
Before relying or quoting anything contained here, you should verify it against the underlying audio recorded here. Time Stamps and automatically-generated speaker names should help in the verification.
Howard Quayle 0:00
Well, good afternoon, everyone. And thank you for joining us today. And I would like to thank all of those of you who’ve tuned in to the questions from the public session on wetness day, a lot of people have told me how useful they found, it’s to hear directly from our Director of Public Health, and the chief executive of the head department of health and social care. And I have to admit, I never knew sewage could be so interesting. Now, thank you to all those who submitted questions. And of course, thank you to James Davies, from Isle of Man advertising, who gave up his time to facilitate the session. We are back to our more regular format today, with our Director of Public Health, joining us on zoom, and the minister of health and social care here in person, I would like to take you through the discussions that took place in the Council of Ministers yesterday. Before I do so, I would like to invite the Minister for health and social care to update us on the testing numbers. David, thank you, Chief Minister,
David Ashford 0:55
the total number of tests undertaken stands at 27,713. The total number of tests concluded is 27,699. Meaning that there were 14 results awaited. In the last 24 hours, there have been two new cases identified, both our travellers identified via our day one testing, and both were already in isolation. So the total number of confirmed cases now stands at 434. We have a total number of active cases of 29, with none of those active cases in hospital. Thank you, Chief Minister.
Howard Quayle 1:31
Thank you very much, David. That’s great news. And while of course, any new cases on the island are disappointing, it’s not surprising given the situation across in the United Kingdom, and beyond. It is reassuring that those people are already in self isolation because of travel, and I wish them a speedy recovery. Now, I know you have a number of other updates for us, but we will come back to you in a minute or two. Today is the 17th day where we’ve seen no unexplained community cases. This is a remarkable achievement. And of course, for real optimism. I’m particularly pleased that the number of active cases is now down to a much lower level, as is the number of people who are in self isolation. Because they have been close contacts of our previous cases, it is clear that we are heading in the right direction. Once again, I need to extend my thanks for the remarkable work by our colleagues in public health, contact tracing and on the 111 line who have identified and isolated the virus in our community. And crucially, I must thank the great Manx public for making the right decisions, even though at times I know it was tough. Let me invite our Director of Public Health to give her expert view on what the data is telling us, doctor you it.
Henrietta Ewart 2:54
Thank you, Chief Minister. Yes, just to underline what you’ve already said, which is that the really good news is that we haven’t seen a case that can community transmission since 17 days ago. So that is very reassuring. We know from the contact tracing and testing data, that all the identified lines of transmission are now contained. So we do not expect at this stage to see any further transmission from those known cases or clusters. And the fact that we haven’t seen any sporadic cases appearing also very much assures us that we’ve managed to contain all of those lines of transmission. Obviously, again, as the chief minister said, so long as we have people coming across the border, we will pick up travel related cases, and they will be picked up by our testing arrangements. And those people who opt for testing, testing of itself doesn’t control on would spread its behaviour that does that. And that’s why we really have to rely on everybody who is asked to self isolate, for whatever reason, to observe the guidance in their direction notice absolutely to the letter. And in terms of our border, it is true to say that we are only as COVID safe on island as the behaviour of the last person across the border. So I really do have to stress that we all need what if we are ever in a position of being a returning traveller, we very much need to observe right to the letter, the direction notice, don’t be tempted to vary from it because you think you can rationalise a reason why what you want to do is okay, it isn’t and that way lies community spread. So I really do want to stress that point. But behaviour is generally very, very good. That is how we’ve got to where we are now from the community transmission. And we just have to keep going until we get to the point where we have the levels of vaccination and the evidence from vaccination to know what impact that has on Transmission, and then we’ll know much more clearly the extent to which we can get back To a life that is more completely as normal later in the year. Thank you, Chief Minister.
Howard Quayle 5:06
And thank you, doctor, you it, we do appear to be turning the page of a new chapter. So onto the Council of Ministers Meeting, we discussed a range of COVID related related issues yesterday, we heard from Dr. Ewart and other senior colleagues who have been leading our response. In our discussion on active cases and measures, we consider the latest data and the view on what this meant for our island. As you can imagine, we were extremely encouraged by what we saw and heard, I’m pleased to be able to tell you that we will be lifting all measures from one minute past midnight on Monday, the first of February, as long as nothing happens between now and then that causes us undue concern. The circuit break lockdown will be over. People have been asking what this means? What will we be able to do from Monday? What Won’t we be able to do? The simple answer is that things will look and feel just like they did before our circuit break. We will be back to the enviable position that we enjoyed for so long last year. And this time, there is an important difference. There is a vaccine programme coming up fast to protect us. Let me start by addressing some of the questions that I know are on people’s minds. If all goes well, on Monday, we will once again be stepping out of your lives as we did on the 15th of June last year. For Monday, all businesses will be able to reopen. I know that some may not be quite ready to do so. And I know that some offices based businesses are considering a phased return. And that is perfectly okay. I know some other businesses may need some time to prepare, I understand. But we are ready for them to open when they are ready. For Monday, our skills will be open to all pupils again, as the Education Minister told us on Monday, we want all pupils to feel competent about returning to school. But if you do have any concerns, please discuss these with your head teacher. And on this point, I would like to thank our teachers and all our school staff for the excellent job they have been doing supporting our young people over the circuit break. And of course, I also need to thank parents for their patience and resilience. from Monday, we will no longer be asking you to stay at home, you can go out see friends visit loved ones. from Monday, we will no longer require face coverings on buses. And in taxis for example, social distance and face coverings will be a matter of personal choice. And as I mentioned last week, we will be returning to our borders to their pre circuit break locked state. Please remember that people’s experience of lockdown will be different, and how people react to the end of the lockdown will be different. Some of our people will be dealing with high levels of anxiety. As we open our society and our economy again. Some people may choose to continue to wear a face covering this is a matter for them. And I would ask everyone to respect that choice. And if as you go about your business, you notice that people want to keep their distance. Please respect that too. Not everyone will be ready for a hug on Monday. But as you’ve heard, we do not believe there is currently any evidence of any community transmission. So for those who are looking forward to catching up with the loved ones and resuming normal life, we are as confident as we can be that it is safe to do so. Some businesses may decide to maintain social distancing or require face coverings. Again, it will be for those businesses to make decisions based on their needs and those of their staff or customers. But government will no longer require this. The one place that may not look and feel quite the same as before is the hospital and other health and social care sites. They are more complex, and it makes sense to treat them a little differently. I will ask the minister to take us through what this will mean. I know he also has some other updates to share with us including on health services, shielding, and of course the vaccination programme. David.
David Ashford 9:33
Thank you, Chief Minister. As we move forward with removing restrictions on Monday there are several points I would like to touch on from the health and social care perspective. Firstly, turning to shielding. Can I thank all those who have shielded throughout the circuit breaker lockdown. We realise how hard is been to once again have to isolate away from your support networks and family and effectively isolate yourselves once again. I can confirm that if as planned restrictions are lifted on Monday, then shoot those who are shielding can come it can come to an end. And those commonly shielding can safely return to going about their lives as normal. We realise for many of those shielding that they may not feel comfortable and doing so, but that is entirely a choice for those individuals that shielding will be removed from Monday. Turning now to the health and social care services themselves. Assuming all restrictions are lifted, health and social care services will be starting to return to normal. What this means from Monday is if restrictions are lifted, that PPA requirements will revert to as they were prior to the circuit breaker lockdown. visitation will return to all department one services as was in place before the circuit break lockdown staff who have been shielding and volunteers will be able to return to work, social care or mental health day services will return as well the transportation network that supports those services. Social distancing, measures will be relaxed, and the cafe shops canteen, onboard trolley service will return to normal. GP services will continue to operate a hybrid model of a mix of face to face and non face to face appointments. Based on the clinical assessment of the patient as was in place prior to the circuit breaker lockdown. In terms of the emergency department, people will continue to see security in place to help guide people for a further week. And patients for the time being will still be asked to only have one person with them wherever this is possible. What I know that people will be very keen to hear about is maternity services. I know the changes we had to bring in have been extremely difficult for expectant mothers who are having a stressful enough time without having to cope with those added infection control and safety measures as well. I can confirm that again subject to restrictions being lifted on Monday, the maternity services will also return to their normal state as prior to the circuit breaker lockdown. Turning to elective surgery. We have begun the term back on of elective surgery. But it does need to be emphasised that this needs to be done in a more staggered way than all the services. The hospital is still seeing the pressures of winter admissions. And so it is important that we keep the Bed Availability under constant review. But we will now start to in a managed way recomends with elective surgery across all speciality ease. And I would now like to turn to vaccines yesterday saw the opening of the ronaldsway Horeb and the administering of 410 vaccines to those and they were the over 80s category. As with any new venture, it was not without eating difficulties. We did see a substantial number of people arriving early for their appointments, in many cases an hour or more earlier. Also, we had a number of people turning up yesterday who didn’t have an appointment, but just wanted to test the process ready for when their appointment came. Can I ask where possible, people arrive about 10 to 15 minutes prior to their appointment. It is recognised that isn’t possible for everyone with the timings of public transport or the wish to share transport. But I can assure people there is no need to turn off an hour or so before your appointment or be concerned about being late. No one is going to be turned away for being a little bit late for their appointment. If you are booked in for that day, you will be vaccinated even if you are late for your appointment. To put this into context, we are vaccinating on average 10 people every 10 minutes. So for every 10 minute slot, there are potentially 10 people to go through which have large numbers of people turn up early will lead to queues and delays. So we do ask where possible that those using their own transport, only aim to arrive 10 to 15 minutes prior to their appointment slot. The 111 line has also been receiving a large number of Clinical Queries from people in relation to the vaccination. I need to stress that 111 in relation to the vaccine is responsible only for the booking of appointments. They can’t assist with clinical or individual medical queries relating to the vaccine. There is a large amount of information online and a list of frequently asked questions covering most of what people want to know, which can be found at Gov dot Iam forward slash COVID vaccination should you have a clinical query or a query directly related to your own medical situation. This needs to be discussed with your GP 111 will not be able to assist with this. I’d also like to re emphasise the process when it becomes people Turn for vaccination, you will receive an invitation letter asking you to call 111 to register for your vaccination appointments. When you contact 111, you will either be booked there or then or the 111 service will call you back with an appointment slot. An email or letter will then be sent to confirm your appointment, which you then bring with you to your vaccination appointments. Sticking with the vaccination theme, the vaccination dashboard went live on Wednesday. This gives the public a chance to be provided with a near real time data on the vaccination programme, and provides a dashboard of information that people can play around with to find the information that they require. And this can be found at COVID-19 dot gov.io. forward slash vac stats. Thank you, Chief Minister.
Howard Quayle 15:52
And thank you very much David for those updates. And I do hope people have had the chance to take a look at the dashboard for the vaccination programme. It is regularly updated and gives you information you need to see how the programme is developing. It also shows how complex the programme is. But the dashboard is really easy to use. Anyone can go on and be a vaccination data expert. Now we’re only four weeks into the programme. But there are some highlights already emerging for me, especially relating to the most vulnerable members of our community in our first priority group, so residents and their care home and their carers, almost 75% have now received at least one dose. In our second priority group. The over 80 is on frontline health and social care staff. For at least one dose, we have almost hit the 50% mark. So yes, there are still some way to go. But we are making great progress and the pace is picking up. So plenty of good news today. All things being equal, we should be free of measures on Monday, and be able to return to near normality on our island. We have asked a lot of you over the last month, and you have been amazing. But I need to ask you for more. You have heard that the risk that there is any virus left in our community is exceptionally low. Let’s keep our wits about us as we go forward. Let’s go back to the basics. Let’s keep washing our hands. And if you have any concerns about symptoms that may or may not be COVID. Let’s not take any risks, stay at home and call 111. I know you’ve heard this 100 times from me, but it is no less important. Now. Although we are so fortunate here, there are still a pandemic going on all around us. And that is why we have the measures in place with three tests and quarantine. For those who travelled to the island. These measures are the best offence we have. As long as people respect the self isolation rules to the letter. Self isolation means what it says no contact at all with anyone else. For our part, we will of course be keeping the 111 service up and running. The contact tracing team will be on standby should we need them? Let’s hope we don’t. Let’s go to questions from the media. And first we have is Helen McKenna from Alabama newspapers. Good afternoon. Hello and faster. My
Helen McKenna 18:21
that’s new ministers. My first question is about the frameworks assuming that they will be starting again on Monday. Can I just ask what happens to the contractors from the UK who were on the island when the islands went into lockdown?
Howard Quayle 18:36
Well, I think because there was a short period of time that we were having the lockdown that some chose to stay and that and that was fine. Some chose to to go back and we will need to get them back on the island. And they will have to follow the rules and regulations. And obviously work starts on the promenade. Obviously this will have caused a further delay to the permanent does. All building projects have been affected. But I’m sure the team will do their utmost to speed it along.
Helen McKenna 19:03
Okay, thanks. And my second question is about basically Germany’s vaccine Commission has been saying that AstraZeneca vaccine should not be given to people over seven sorry, 65. So what’s the Isle of Man government’s reaction to this? And has the government looked at they looked at the data?
Howard Quayle 19:24
Right? Well, I think I’ll let David and then maybe doctor, you might want to finish off on that.
David Ashford 19:28
Yeah, I’ll bring the Director of Public Health in in a moment. We do look at data from around the world. How long at the moment, the advice is, it is absolutely fine for it to be administered in the over 60 fives. The the evidence that this has been based on what the German health authorities has been widely disputed by AstraZeneca itself, but also others within the scientific community. And on that note, I’ll bring in the Director of Public Health.
Henrietta Ewart 19:53
Thank you. Yes, absolutely agree with what you’ve just said the published trial results. On the AstraZeneca do show efficacy in those over 65. And that is certainly supported by the jcvi, the Joint Committee on vaccination and immunisation and the MH IRA, who approved emergency authorization. I understand because it’s just come through on breaking news that the EU European Medicines Agency has also approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for use without any restriction in the older age groups. So I think maybe this is something that Germany had picked up on, but it was certainly far from consensus.
Unknown Speaker 20:39
Howard Quayle 20:40
Thanks very much. Hello. Now we move on to Alex Bell from BBC Isle of Man. Good afternoon, Alex faster. My Good afternoon,
Alex Bell 20:48
just looking at the vaccination figures which were published yesterday afternoon, it appears that just one second dose of vaccine was administered. I’m just wondering, can you break that down? How are the vaccines allocated so that a single second dose is given out in one day?
David Ashford 21:06
Yeah, in relation to that Alex would let’s not forget, when the trays are de fostered, be it fives is the fossa vaccine, you have five days to be able to use the doses. So it’s not a case of you use that entire dosage within within one day, equally with the ocular, the Oxford AstraZeneca virus that breaks down even further and you can use single vials.
Alex Bell 21:30
Thank you. And it just is a second question. And obviously, there’s been a great number of tests, I think it’s around 27,000 tests that you mentioned carried out now. Do we have a number a firm number on the cost of a PCR test to the taxpayer?
David Ashford 21:46
Alex Bell 22:24
So is it possible then to get a cost? For the overall amount of tests carried out since the beginning of the pandemic?
David Ashford 22:30
It would be a very, very rough figure Alex, you it because you would have to be calculating and not just the use of supplies, which would be an easy figure to calculate. But you’ve got to factor in staff staffing time, the use of the microbiology labs, the obviously the setup that’s been created at the grandstand. I well, it’d be a very interesting figure to have, I think you’d actually waste more resource pulling that figure together and trying to work it out than what it’s actually worth to the public.
Howard Quayle 23:00
Thank you very much, Alex. Now we move on to Sam Turton from Jeff. Good afternoon, Sam faster, my faster. My
Sam Turton 23:07
Chief Minister, the first question is actually comes from your Twitter account, which people have asked me about his businesses wanting to prepare to reopen for Monday, our staff allowed to go in this weekend to prepare for that.
Howard Quayle 23:21
The The answer is yes. Obviously, we asked them to follow the social distancing. But we understand that businesses will need to go in and prepare their businesses. So yes, they can go in. But please respect, social distancing, keep on wearing their face mask, etc. I don’t know, David, if you want to expand on that,
David Ashford 23:39
yet, from a from a point of view of the restrictions, the restrictions are in place till Monday, bought businesses do need to prepare. There’s a lot of businesses that will need to prepare for Monday and reopening as normal. So the staff are allowed to enter the premises in order to prepare, they can’t open as a business so they can’t be serving anyone. But staff can certainly go into prepare as long as social distancing, and precautions are taken, such as the use of massive masks where appropriate.
Sam Turton 24:07
And secondly is probably mostly firm research conducted. What do we know about these the vaccines that should be in results scrap for today and in terms of how that could affect the island’s vaccination programme going forward? Obviously, we’re not expecting them in the next few weeks, but we’ll be certainly some people will be interested in.
David Ashford 24:26
Yeah, I’ve been talking to you attend in a moment in relation to the Novavax the Novak’s job, and the UK is secured 60 million doses I believe of the job. They’re not expected until the second half of this year though. So we do have to put that as a caveat. But again, with the supply arrangement would be the same, we’d receive 0.13% of the UK is order. I haven’t been quick enough since the news broke to actually do the maths and try and work out what that is. But basically we will be entitled on the same basis to access Or it looks from the face of it with the with the being 89.3% effective in the UK trials to be very positive. But you know me sound very cautious by nature. I always like to wait until there’s a bit more evidence out there. But it’s certainly looking. It’s certainly looking positive. And then as for the US for the other job, that Sam come forward as well, that’s obviously Luke in a bit. That’s looking a bit lower. But again, they’ve this that was done as a single dose, I believe. So we’ll wait to see. They are doing still, I believe trials around what happens if you get two doses of that. So wait to see what the results are. I’ll bring the Director of Public Health in.
Henrietta Ewart 25:39
Thank you. Yes, Minister is given a very good summary there. Just to note, the both of these the Novavax and the Jensen, which is the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, these are their published trial results. So these now have to go through the regulator, in our case, cm HRA for actually emergency authorization. And then as with the vaccines, we already have, as we know, there is a process whereby the protocols, liability arrangements etc, are signed off. And then of course, the supply chain and at the end of all, that it should start coming over as part of our overall supply chain and can be factored into our programme.
Unknown Speaker 26:20
Howard Quayle 26:22
Okay, thank you very much for that, Sam. Okay, we’ve now move on to the Hancock from three FM. Good afternoon, Leanne faster. My
Helen McKenna 26:30
last name, Chief Minister, and my first question is just a question we’ve had from a number of residents. They’re just looking for a bit of clarity on where the Ireland currently stands in regards to applications on compassionate grounds.
Howard Quayle 26:43
Okay, well, we announced at a previous briefing, that compassionate grounds would be considered, again, from the 26th of January. So we are allowing compassionate grounds. But obviously, that has to be assessed by our team of David, if you need to, if there’s anything you need to add to that.
David Ashford 27:00
Yeah. So in terms of compassionate, it’s just a state that it has to be something that is vital for entry to the Ireland’s so people who, for instance, are attending to a seriously sick relative for the attendance at funerals, etc. Those are the sort of grounds that people will be looking for when an application comes forward.
Helen McKenna 27:21
And my second question is for you, health minister, I’m wondering if you have a date for when you expect all residents of care homes to be vaccinated.
David Ashford 27:29
So it depends what you mean by vaccinated because obviously, there’s two different interlocking terms, there’s the first dose, and then there’s the full vaccination by them haven’t been completed with their second dose, the first doses will be expected to have been delivered to everyone, including those that don’t have capacity that are eligible for the vaccine. And as disagreed they will by mid February. In terms of those with capacity, the vast majority of those have now been completed. There are still some outstanding, and then for everyone who is approved for the vaccine, they will receive their second dose by around about by basically mid March, end of March. be fully vaccinated.
Helen McKenna 28:09
Howard Quayle 28:11
Thank you very much, Leanne. We now move on to Simon Richardson from business 365. Good afternoon, Simon foster my
Paul Moulton 28:17
Good afternoon. My first question, really, I suppose is for you, Chief Minister. Obviously, everybody’s looking forward to returning to near normal if you exclude the matter of the closed borders from Monday, what was the decision to lift all restrictions unanimous in common or whether any dissenting voices?
Howard Quayle 28:37
No, we we’ve always been we’ve always respected the evidence. We’ve said this was a short term circuit break. I’m delighted that we’ve been able to, you know, stick to that. And all of Council of Ministers was delighted that the data has enabled us to move forward. I don’t go into you know, votes in the Council of Ministers. Simon, it is confidential our meetings, but yeah, everyone was happy. And it the data, it clearly shows that we’re in as good a position as as we can be. And as I say, That’s great credit to the people of the Isle of Man for working so hard working with government to enable us to get into this excellent position.
Paul Moulton 29:18
Thank you. And secondly, for Dr. us if I may, the issue of mental health has been very much to the fore in this second lockdown. Are you aware of any significant increase in demand for both state and maybe mental health charity services this time around?
Henrietta Ewart 29:35
We haven’t seen any hard data to that effect. And in fact, what we do see is very much a mix. There are some suggestions that some issues may be worse, others may be better. So it’s impossible to say categorically that yes, mental health has worsened, because we don’t have data to support that. And in some aspects, there may be things that have improved somewhat, but we don’t have the data Really to give a full overview of that yet, we may do may have a better way of looking back on it in the future as the data accrues. But at the moment, we do not have. And we have been trying to monitor things to see if there is, you know, an increase in signal, if you like, that says something really bad is going on here. And it appears to be driven by lockdown, we don’t have those signals, which is good. Obviously, we can’t say that it doesn’t have any effect on mental health, emotional well being. But nothing that that is creating a really strong signal of concern. I think it would be fair to say
Unknown Speaker 30:38
Howard Quayle 30:38
Thank you very much, Simon. And now we move on to Alex Watson from Manx radio. Good afternoon, Alex festa. My
Unknown Speaker 30:44
Unknown Speaker 30:46
And we’ve had a number of people report that the second dose of the vaccine can have a bigger impact than the first feelings of fatigue and other flu like symptoms. Is there any advice you have for people going for their second vaccine and ways that they could prepare both mentally and physically?
Howard Quayle 31:02
Okay, David, you want to comment on that? Yeah,
David Ashford 31:03
I’ll bring Yeah, I’ll bring it in. And then I’ll start and then bring the Director of Public Health in if I may. The side effects are well, no, and they are not unusual in any way, shape, or form. It happens with all the vaccinations as well, after the flu vaccination, people can sometimes have very similar symptoms, where they develop flu like symptoms, the evidence is the symptoms tend to last for 24 hours. And it is the body basically building up the antibodies in the and actually taking the extra dose on board. So it’s not anything for people to be concerned about. It is perfectly normal. And in most cases, those symptoms will pass up to 24 hours, but I’ll bring the Director of Public Health.
Henrietta Ewart 31:44
Thank you, Minister has given a very clear overview there. So all I would add to that really is the information that people are given when they have their vaccine includes advice on what you can do in terms of home remedies to ameliorate any of those symptoms, should you experience them, but they are very well documented and to be expected in a proportion of people. So people should be aware of that and follow the guidance in the leaflets, they’ll be given to us simple remedies to get through that period.
Unknown Speaker 32:18
Unknown Speaker 32:20
My second questions for the chief minister, really, we’ve seen a number of rate rises announced today, mainly Douglas, but Rand important married afternoon, the Lib Dem parties told us they’d expect government would make sure all local authorities were able to hold the rates at the current level for the next financial year, saying now is not the time to impose increased financial burdens on people in the middle of a pandemic. Consequently, many people on social media have said this is hitting the working classes when they’re down. And I know this isn’t Treasury isn’t here today. But as head of our government, can you give us a reaction to that?
Howard Quayle 32:52
Well, we have to look after everyone, obviously. And yes, an increase in rate is most most unwelcome. I know I’m lucky that living in the parish of Moran, they’ve they’ve announced no increases in their rates. So it can be done with local authorities. Obviously, we’ll have to monitor the situation you do need to look after the vulnerable in our society, those who are struggling, but equally the taxpayer at the end of the day, we’re using government’s money has probably shelled out 200 million pounds and rising to support COVID and the costs and and helping businesses to move forward and to expect us to fund everything going forward. But I think it would be unreasonable and would have the potential if we were to say right, we’re going to fund every increase that everyone experiences to bankrupt society. So obviously, Treasury will be monitoring and their social security arm increases to the public. I know I’ve been contacted from people regarding some of the items that they buy in their food basket, seeing a significant increase, it will be monitored, and if Treasury feel that there is a need through their social security arm to increase support, then I’m sure that will be looked at. Thank you. Thank you very much, Alex. Now we move on to Paul Moulton from Isle of Man television. Good afternoon, Paul, faster. My Good afternoon.
Paul Moulton 34:15
You mentioned Chief Minister that you thought some businesses may not be ready to open on Monday. And I’m thinking Kevin, for instance, they will definitely private ones can do but they won’t. Have you got any more meat on the bones on what sort of businesses have thought they don’t want to yet open?
Howard Quayle 34:30
Well, I was mainly talking about private sector businesses, they may well choose to. They’ve got their teams working from home a large number and they may decide that they’re not going to bring everyone back on Monday that they will do it in a phased way. And what we’re saying is that’s your choice. You know, we’re saying that from Monday, you can open up as normal, I will as normal or the man’s normal as I call it, but we’re not going to force you that’s your choice. So really, it’s just a recognition that for everyone what they won’t be able to open up 100% And straightaway, they can do it in a phased approach. And it’s just a recognition of that.
Paul Moulton 35:05
And all government workers, when will you all be going back to work?
Howard Quayle 35:08
Yeah, I would hope that all gone. What would what the vast majority will be back on Monday, obviously, there may well be a staggered approach to we employs several 1000 people across government. And if there’s a need by the Chief Secretary and his team to maybe take a few days longer to open up certain areas, then that’s, that’s an area that I, you know, I really don’t get involved in. That’s their operational side of things. And that’s for them to choose as, as private businesses, what’s the best way forward?
Paul Moulton 35:37
And certainly, for a lot of people, it’s going to be a little bit more cautious. I think this time opening up, I think there’s certain nervousness about going back to just completely hugging and shaking hands. That’s all thing. And the side effect of this, of course, is if you don’t shake hands, you don’t have too much contact with people, our rates of flu and colds will also decrease, which is probably a good thing, isn’t it?
Howard Quayle 35:59
It could well be I think it’s been noticeable. There has been on less that I’ll ask Dr. yoke to comment on this probably say the opposite. But I have been led to believe that we have seen a reduction in the number of winter flu, shall we say, and the increased hand hygiene that were we’re seeing as a community has helped with part of that. But it may be something for everyone to take on board, but maybe doctor you it and then David might like to comment on that further.
Henrietta Ewart 36:28
Thank you. Yes, that’s
Unknown Speaker 36:29
Henrietta Ewart 36:30
rates of flu are certainly very, very much lower than we would usually expect. We don’t do a surveillance system for other respiratory illnesses, flu does get measured in terms of hospital surveillance. And yes, we seem to have very much lower rates than we would normally get. So I think that is a side effect of the way we’ve all modified our behaviour, and in particular, our improved hand and respiratory hygiene. So there’s that’s a lesson to take forward into the future with us there.
Paul Moulton 37:04
And as reflected in mortality rates, you know, less than dying.
Henrietta Ewart 37:09
We haven’t been able to do the final death analysis because we don’t get the death records in real time. Obviously, we do keep mortality under review. And we do an annual review of it, although we’re a bit late on the current years because of pressure from COVID. But when those statistics do come through, and they do get analysed, we will see that.
Unknown Speaker 37:31
Okay, David, do
David Ashford 37:32
you have anything to add to just a very quick one, because I think the Director of Public Health summed it up perfectly. But you did mentioned at the very start, Paul, that people may still be nervous. come Monday, I just want to emphasise again, it’s okay for people to be nervous. You know, it’s perfectly natural. And people you know, we’re just because we’re going back to normal doesn’t mean that people have to do things that they’re uncomfortable with. If people still want to keep their distance, if they still wished personally to continue to isolate, or they want to wear masks in public. That is perfectly all right. It is natural, the PISA and people will be nervous, and we should respect their decisions.
Howard Quayle 38:07
Okay, thank you very much, Paul. And now last but not least, just Stokes from ITV. Granada. Good afternoon Java mastermind.
Josh Stokes 38:14
Well, today in chief minister, my first question to adopt to you it’s not yet we’ve seen what is happening with the likes of Guernsey who are now on 142 active cases and they’re in their own lockdown. Just to get the full picture from a public health perspective, how likely is it that we could start to see spread in the community again, under our current system? And how concerned are you that this could happen?
Henrietta Ewart 38:34
It is a an ever present risk. As I said, I’ve said it today, I think I’ve said it previously, we are only as COVID safe on island as the last person across the border. And we all have to take that message very much to heart, particularly if we’re somebody contemplating travel or coming across for whatever reason. If it gets into the community, it can get seeded out there very quickly. And before you know it, you’ve got a position like Guernsey I’ve said before that there but for the grace of God, we could have been with what happens here across Christmas and New Year. We were lucky in that by the time those the individuals involved at the beginning of those clusters presented, we were still close enough to actually identify the lines of transmission back to specific travel related events, and map and close off those lines of transmission. If we hadn’t been at the fortunate position there was that people were presenting with symptoms. Now if those initial people had been asymptomatic, they could have passed it on. And if those people were asymptomatic, they could have passed it on and on. And no one would have known until it had got a lot further out and then people were presenting as symptomatic. And once you’ve got to that position, you haven’t got those clear lines that you can follow Through and close down. And that’s why things can then go very badly wrong. Because if we look at the our number, each individual on average will infect three more. And then each of those will infect three more, you can see how quickly it can go from one to, you know, 142, or whatever they’ve got in Guernsey today. And then it becomes it’s still containable by very vigorous contact tracing, testing and self isolation. But it becomes a lot more difficult and it will take longer. So I think we really have to look at what’s happening in Guernsey, and indeed what happened in Jersey a month or two beforehand, and say that is an ever present risk for us, we can’t relax. And that’s why particularly our risk is coming across the border. So everybody who does come across the border really has to get the message, that it is vital that they follow the directions that they’re given in their direction notice, and don’t think that they can justify doing things a little bit different, because it will be okay, won’t it? Because it may not be and if it isn’t, then that’s what results. Thank you. Thank you. Thank
Josh Stokes 41:09
you that my second question for the chief minister, please. Chief Minister finger precautionary level again, is spread words occur once again in the community. Are you confident in the success of the circuit breaker lockdown we just went through and with the island follow the same strategy if an outbreak was happening again? Or is the response being reviewed in any way?
Howard Quayle 41:26
Well, we’re reviewing it all the time. joshy Yes, we feel it has been a success. It’s only been a success. Because the people of the Isle of Man, the great Manx public have worked with us they followed the rules are excellent contact tracing team have been able to go in and quickly isolate those people that were at high risk. But as Dr. UTAS has said, where we’re living with it, and we can’t be complacent, there are maybe areas depending on the city, I suppose it depends on the severity and the inflammation. The first case, if we’re if you remember around the sort of boxing day time of period when we had our first case, we weren’t too worried about that? Well, we were not in a significant way of having to shut the whole island down. It was the second case where there was cases coming from everywhere at the time that we we felt we had to shut down. So it really is on a case by case basis. And that’s how the Council of Ministers will make its decision. Should there be another outbreak in the future, we could maybe be not so tough. And maybe next time if we have concerns, we might only say right all outside trades can continue to work through the process. It really, really will be on a case by case basis, Josh, but of course, everyone ourselves included should we learn from our experiences, you might notice that we did things slightly differently to the first lockdown, we didn’t implement some of the changes, that we weren’t quite as hard as we did the first time around because we’re learning all the time. And yes, of course, we will take from our experiences. And let’s hope it doesn’t happen again. But we have to prepare that it may. And we will, you know learn from what we’ve come through now. But I am delighted that all of us working together we’ve managed to stick to the give or take a couple of days that the three week lockdown the circuit break seems to have worked. And I know we are sharing our experiences with our good friends in Guernsey to give any information of what we’ve experienced to help them out. And I’m sure they will do exactly the same to ourselves.
Unknown Speaker 43:33
Howard Quayle 43:35
Thank you very much, Joshua. And thank you all very much for all of your questions. And thank you so much for joining us this evening. And thank you for making the right decisions for yourself, your family and your island and you’ve protected our vaccination programme. Once again, the great Manx public has done us proud. Let’s leave it there for this evening. At the end of this briefing, you can see a 92nd walkthrough of the airport vaccination hub, do take a look. So please keep doing what you’ve been doing for the last couple of days. If we have any reason to change direction, then we will of course let you know as soon as possible. But all being well. Monday should be a welcome return to the old normal. Enjoy it. You have earned it. Don’t forget to support our local businesses. They have had a tough time and please be kind to each other. Thank you