This is a very rough and unverified transcript of the Isle of Man Government’s Coronavirus Media Briefing held on Monday 18 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. We are now into day 12 of our circuit breaker lockdown. Once again, we have the Director of Public Health Joe joining us on zoom, and our minister of health and social care here in person. As I mentioned last week, the council of ministers met this morning to consider our progress so far in our efforts to flush the virus out of our community. Again, I would like to brief you on that. But before I do, I would like to hand over to the minister and our Director of Public Health for our regular updates. These are particularly relevant today, as together they are a critical part of the context the Council of Ministers considered. So let us go first to the minister of health and social care who can update us on today’s numbers, David?
David Ashford 0:46
Thank you, Chief Minister. The total number of tests undertaken now stands at 25,780. The total tests concluded at 25,768, meaning that there’s 12 people awaiting results. There have been four new identified cases, two of those returning travellers and two high risk contacts, which were all in isolation, bring our total cases to 432. Just before I move back to the Chief Minister, I just wanted to focus on the vaccination programme. And if I may, Chief Minister, go into some detail around many questions. I know that people may have been asking themselves and hopefully be able to provide a bit more detailed understanding about the rollout. So the first question I think many people have been asking is, is the vaccination rollout too slow, and could it not be done quicker? The answer to this is we can only vaccinate based on supply or supply is 0.13% of the UK supply, based on a per head of population basis. This is the amount we have received to date. We must also keep an off vaccine to ensure we can deliver the second dose. As vaccines can’t be mixed and matched, the second dose must be the same as the first. The deliveries from the manufacturers of the vaccine is not an even amount each week. It will differ over the cold forthcoming months, according to the manufacturers and their production alongside the UK delivery levels. So it is important we hold an off vaccine of the correct type to deliver people second doses of the correct vaccine as we cannot mix and match. So how are the orders spaced out? Can we not get an off get an A get an off vaccination of vaccines appropriate to vaccinate all the population at once. deliveries of the vaccine are from the UK stock purchased from the manufacturers. This is a brand new vaccine being purchased and produced from scratch, it will take time for the manufacturers to produce. For instance five so alone is looking at needing to produce 2 billion vaccines this year. So deliveries are spread out between now and September. As with any manufacturing process, production starts off at a lower level before building up. And that’s exactly the same with receipts or vaccine stock. They will start off at low levels and then build up as the manufacturers ramp up production. I cannot emphasise enough that our limitation here on Ireland is not resource. We have more than enough resource for each stage of the vaccination programme. Our only limitation is supply. We can only vaccinate to the level of supply we have access to. So I know another question that has been going in many people’s minds is as a crown dependency, can we not get vaccine other than through the UK. as would be expected there is a worldwide demand for the vaccine. With Pfizer alone looking as I’ve said to try to produce 2 billion doses the sheer scale of production never seen before. As a crown dependency of Ruta supply is via the UK. We are a small jurisdiction with a population of 84 to 85,000. So have limited buying power, and the manufacturer is what I’m afraid not prioritise us for vaccines, we have benefited from the buying power of the UK as a large nation. For instance, the UK has purchased 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine alone, and will between now and September have more than enough vaccine to cover the whole population of the island, something we would not have access to on our own. with larger countries around the world, having already mass purchased in advance most of the production to be carried out this year. Trying to act on our own, we would have access to nowhere near the level of vaccine we have via the UK and would likely not see any vaccine delivered until late this year at the earliest as the manufacturers seek to make the pre orders of the large jurisdictions around the world. Another question I know has come up is when will the priority groups be completed based on current delivery schedules? All those in the priority groups will be vaccinated by the end of May. That is everyone over 50 in care homes and in the clinically vulnerable category that equates in population terms to 42,000 people, or 50% of our population. So when will the whole of the population be vaccinated based on common delivery schedules? And again, I must emphasise that it depends on timescales of the manufacturers producing the vaccine. The UK has ordered, everyone who wishes to have a vaccine will have been able to have one by the end of September.
David Ashford 5:35
Another question I know that I’ve had quite a bit on particularly since Friday, is I’m in the over 80s category and received my letter, but had my appointment booked for mid February. Why is that a month away? The over 80s vaccinations have commenced and started last week. To put it into context. In the over 80s category, there are 4397 people. So based on supply of the vaccine, it will take a number of weeks for that cohort to be vaccinated. This did come up with Friday’s briefings as a question, and I must confess, and it will show that I am actually human that I lost track of where we currently were in January, as all the days seem to be merging into one with me at the moment. So I thought we were really in January than we actually are. So it is correct that appointments will be four weeks in advance as again, we can only work to the supply we hold. As the supplies we receive increase, so will the number of vaccinations we deliver each week. Our staffing and delivery of jabs into arms is based on the levels of vaccine we receive and increases as the level of supply increases over the coming months. So the next question I suppose that many people have been asking is is the Alamin programme slower than other countries? Based on our current number of vaccinations carried out per 100 people? Our vaccination programme is within the top 10% of vaccination rollouts in the world. It is correct. We are currently behind the UK. But as the delivery schedule increases in February and March, we will overtime equal the UK rollout on a population basis. Another thing I know people have seen is that in the UK church halls, marquees, etc, are being used. So why aren’t we doing that? We will be delivering the vaccine from hopes because it will work much more efficiently than having multiple sites and duplication. There is a large administrative and patient safety process behind this vaccine rollout and also logistical processes around transporting and delivering. It therefore makes sense and is much more efficient as a small island to operate from a few central hubs, which will allow the processing of people more quickly and will not mean multiple duplications of administration and staffing. It also has to be remembered that when we see these hopes on TV being created by the UK, they are actually in many cases covering and catering for larger populations than our entire island. So this is something we’ve spoken about before where will these hubs be. As the delivery level of vaccines increases, we will be bringing the hubs online. So the airport hub previously announced will begin operating on the 28th of January. As they announced on Friday we will also be looking to convert the old shoprite building and Chester street into a vaccination Hope this has to replace the common setup we have a Newlands the Newlands setup was created before lockdown and the need for social distancing requirements and the added measures we also need as a result. It therefore makes sense to create a larger space away from the hospital site, which will come online in February in line with our increased deliveries of the vaccine. I can also confirm we are looking at creating a vaccination hub in the north of the island. Also to come online in late February, as the vaccination programme increases in line with supply. I am limited in what I can say about this at the moment. But when we are in a position to advise further we will. So another question we get quite a lot of or I do as Minister for Health is why in the island have we so far been vaccinated three days a week rather than seven days. The first important point to stress is the three days a week we have been doing does not mean less vaccine is being delivered. If we were doing seven days, who would still be the same amount of vaccine delivered based on supply just spaced over seven days instead of three. The decision was taken to do three intensive days to begin with. So the clinical body could review the handling protocols and delivery procedures of the vaccine after each batch. And also crucially, the safety procedures to check they are all working as expected. It has to be remembered. This is a brand new vaccine and is actually the most logistically challenging vaccine ever created. There are strict safety protocols around security, transport, handling, storage, mixing, delivery, and even down to how the used vials are disposed off to have the right to use vaccines, we have to ensure we comply with all of these. So there needs to be a constant review of processes to ensure we are compliant. As an example, due to the reviews that have already been made. numerous changes to processes have resulted from the experience of actually delivering the vaccine. As a medical procedure procedure, it is important, we ensure the vaccine programme is patient safe at each and every stage. I hope that people have found this helpful. But before handing back to the Chief Minister, the two there are two other topics I would like to very quickly touch on. The first is to say thank you to the Ireland’s blood donors, and the teams that have allowed blood donation donation to continue. Despite the issues we have faced, blood donation is a crucial part of our health service. And I would like to say thank you to the team for all they have done to keep the service running at this difficult time. And also those who are blood donors who have continued to come forward. I’ve also spoken to one of the families who has been in touch with me who has been affected by this dreadful virus, who sadly have been very upset by comments that have been they’ve been viewing on social media, it is important that we as an island come together at this difficult time. And I asked that people think about how comments come across to those who have been affected. They are victims of this virus, they did not want to become infected, they did nothing wrong to become infected. Sadly, when you are dealing with an invisible enemy, such as this virus, even the most cautious of us runs the risk of infection. So please think before you post and consider the feelings of those suffering at this currently difficult time. Thank you, Chief Minister.
Howard Quayle 11:41
Thank you very much, David. Now let me move without further adieu to the Director of Public Health for any additional information she may be able to share regarding the tests, and importantly, what it means for us. I know the doctor you with also has an update for us on results received from the tests that we sent to Liverpool, doctor.
Henrietta Ewart 12:00
Yes, thank you, Chief Minister. I’ll start with the tests from Liverpool because we now have the results of the genomic sequencing that’s been done on positive tests taken up to an including the 10th of January. One additional case of the UK new variant b 117 has been identified. This was fine from a routine testing in a returned traveller who was already self isolating, there is no evidence of any onward transmission into the community. No pieces of the South African or Brazil variants have been identified. One variant has been identified as being linked to a cluster that currently includes around 15 confirmed cases, that cluster is also related to travel. So in terms of community transmission on Island, and particularly the issue of sporadic cases for which we can find no links to clusters. And those sporadic cases are the ones that cause us to worry that we’ve got transmission going on within the community on Island. We haven’t had such a case since last Tuesday. So six days, which is reason to be cautiously optimistic, but not of course, to relax yet because the incubation period, as we know is 14 days. And in fact, the technical definition of a closed outbreak or closed transmission is 28 days without a case. Thank you.
Howard Quayle 13:32
Thank you very much, Doctor, you know, Doctor, you it’s an other colleagues joined the Council of Ministers this morning to review our current situation. We wanted to understand the picture that was emerging, and we wanted to understand what might be appropriate and possible to do regarding our measures. As I’ve said before, we have to strike a critical balance, we need to get our exit from measures right not rushed. We need to balance remaining risk against our wish to for a return to normality. So at our review this morning, we were encouraged to say that we have now seen our sixth day with no evidence of community transmission. Yes, there are still cases, but for almost a week. Now, these have been people who are already in self isolation, because either they have travelled or because they have been identified through contact tracing as a close contact and therefore have been asked to self isolate. There is of course still some way to go. But it does appear that what you have been doing is having an impact. Dr. You and others have told us that we will not know with certainty if we have succeeded, and that the virus is no longer on our island until we see 28 days with no community transmission, two cycles of 14 days. But what we also heard is that the longer we go without unexplained cases, the more that risk reduces. We have therefore agreed that on Thursday When we might be beyond seven days, we will consider the possibility of making a modest set of changes to our measures. We do not want to rush and risk ruining what you have achieved. But we do want to take a step forward. If the circumstances allow, we will be looking at changes around outside spaces are the approach we took as we eased out of our measures last spring. The scientific advice is that the risk of transmission Outdoors is significantly lower than indoors, especially if social distancing, face coverings and good hygiene are also in place, we still need to finalise details of what might be included, but this may be to allow outdoor trades to return to work, especially those who work alone. We may also be able to make changes to allow other people as long as this is outdoors. You will remember Dec chairing it may be something like that. I cannot say much more than this right now, we have a good idea where we want to go. We want to ensure that this is tested with our clinic, clinical and public health teams and have that that and that the time is right. But I do have to underline that even if we were able to announce these changes later this week, social distancing and face coverings will remain with us and will continue to be important. I will update you on this as soon as possible. I would now like to move on to our vaccination programme. Today was an important milestone in our vaccination programme. As we started the deployment of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine into our care homes. You may have seen the wonderful pictures of Sally Murray, who along with 32 other residents at southlands in Port Aaron, got her first job today. Thank you to those 33 and all the team at southlands. for their assistance, it is the beginning of a new phase. You will all remember that the Oxford vaccine is far easier to handle than the Pfizer vaccine. While for the moment we have to limit our use of the Pfizer vaccine to those who are at the hospital, or who can get there easily. Now that we have the green light to use the Oxford vaccine, it means that the vaccine can travel to our community wherever they are on the island. This is an important step. Until now we have had to bring people to the vaccine. Now we can take people now we can take the vaccine to the people. I know the minister was keen to share some more details with you. And he’s given a very comprehensive discussion on that.
Howard Quayle 17:37
I wanted to make some points of my own that I hope address some of the questions that are circulating. Firstly, people have been asking why we are so far behind the United Kingdom. It is true that there is a shorter lag between us what we always knew that there would be there are some technical and legal reasons why the UK has been able to proceed at such pace, while we have had to be a little more cautious. And of course, they are in a different situation regarding COVID in their communities. The UK health Secretary this weekend said that the UK has now vaccinated more people than have tests that have tested positive for Cote COVID-19. So this is of course a positive milestone for them. But to put this in context, we just did this in the first two days of our own vaccination programme. Our situations are different. Second, this is really important to state that we can only vaccinate as fast as the vaccine, the vaccine arrives. And I can confirm as the minister has already done at this briefing, that we are getting the same as if we were a fair region of the UK, our fair share, as some people have called it. The increase in pace that the UK have signalled to take place over the coming weeks as more Oxford vaccin becomes available should be felt here to the third concern that people have expressed to me has been that they didn’t know when they can expect to get their vaccinations. We did publish our priority group some time ago. And these are on our website. What they do not have now and I know his firm dates by which each group each group will be completed. And as I say the minister has already taken us through this in detail. It will be easy for me to stand here today and over promise to give you dates and deadlines that we may or may not meet. But I want to give you information that is based on fact and reality. I can tell you that we do have the stocks on Ireland to complete a first job for everyone in our residential care homes by the end of this week. And we hope to have given a first job to our top two priority groups, residential and nursing care homes, frontline health and social care staff and over 18 by the end of February. I’m sure there will be plenty of questions So let’s go to questions from the media. And first off, we have Leanne cook from three FM. Good afternoon, Leanne faster. My
Leanne Cook 20:08
Good afternoon, Chief Minister, my first question is for the health minister, please. And just a bit of clarification, we had a question from a member of the public regarding visits for care homes, they’ve been suspended for non essential visitors for the rest of the lockdown, just looking for clarification to what exactly is an essential and a non essential visitor.
David Ashford 20:31
So an essential visit would be end of life, that would what we will classes on essential visits, where the person has end of life, the care homes needs at the moment, unfortunately, to have restricted visiting, we can’t afford for there to be any risk of an outbreak in the care home. So I know it’s upsetting for people, but we have asked for the purposes of this lockdown that they do bear with us. And we do need to have these visitor restrictions in place.
Unknown Speaker 20:59
Okay, thank you. And my second question, do you have an exact figure of what that capacity nobles has to deal with any influx of COVID patients.
David Ashford 21:08
So in terms of Nobles capacity, the capacity will change. That’s why it’s very hard to put a finger on because it would depend what type of outbreak we saw. If we saw a widespread outbreak, we can reconfigure the hospital to bring back online COVID wards. So at the moment, we have the side rooms which are used for any patients that are required in COVID. So they are limited in number, but the capacity, like I say can be stepped up back to where we were in the previous outbreak, If required, where we can actually have hold dedicated wards for COVID patients equally with intensive care beds. We currently have the capacity that the normal capacity of intensive care beds, which I think is about eight beds bought again, if we needed to revert as we did previously, we could convert the capacity back to the 16 we stepped up to Okay, thank
Unknown Speaker 21:57
Howard Quayle 21:59
Thank you very much Leanne. Now we move on to Josh Stokes from ITV. Granada. Good afternoon, Josh faster. My Good afternoon, Chief Minister, and you said you’ve been advised that will now not know that the virus has been fully eradicated from the island until 28 days with no community transmission. So with that, are you able to confirm that the island will remain in some form of lockdown with social distancing until these 28 days have been completed? Well, I think if we’re going to wait 28 days, Josh, it will be minor restrictions. But let’s wait and see what the advice is in the future on this. As I say, we hope to already start announcing an easing of restrictions in a few days time if we carry on the projectory of no community cases, but it will be on the voice of our Director of Public Health and in our medical team. We’ll just have to wait and see. So I can’t give you a cast iron guarantee. Obviously this is our second time around. We’ve said it’s a short circuit break. And if the figures and everyone is reassured that we are in a good place, then I sincerely hope we don’t have to wait the full 28 days, but presumably will now see the circuit breaker lockdown extended beyond the 28th of January. Is that right? In in a form I should imagine. But as I say, we’re hopeful that before we hit 28 days that we will have allowed some elements of society work for us to be able to go back to their normal workplace. So it will be an easing off, it will certainly be on the 28th of January we we open up everything. We’ll do it gradually like we did the last time and the the signs are encouraging so far. But let’s wait and see. And obviously near the time, I can give you further updates. Okay, thank you my second question, you say that you may allow outdoor trays to return to work given the current numbers and may allow people to meet outdoors. What are you looking specifically between now and Thursday that will specifically confirm that this change may happen? I suppose it’s no more community cases on unexplained cases in the community. So you can expect that if there is no community transmission between now and then that these changes will happen? Well, obviously, that I caveat that with, again, the advice of our Director of Public Health and our medics and, you know, vote in favour and Council of Ministers, but you know, that is looking likely at this moment in time. Thank you. Thanks very much, Josh. Now we move on to Simon Richardson from business 365. Good afternoon, Simon faster. My
Simon Richardson 24:24
Good afternoon, Chief Minister. My first question relates to the outbreak, the cluster the weekend at King Williams College. Do you think that the handle location and nature of the cluster being identified at the outset that a lot of speculation and public anxiety could have been avoided?
Howard Quayle 24:43
Right, I don’t know. David or doctor you but would you like to take this one?
David Ashford 24:47
And I’ll bring the Director of Public Health and if I may, since his contact tracing?
Henrietta Ewart 24:51
Yes, yes, indeed. I mean, the issue with this cluster was that it was contained from the very start because it was a final Each group who’d come in from international travel, and we’re already self isolating, at the time that the first case was identified as part of the routine travel testing. So to that extent, they were no different to any other household that consists of returning travellers, they were just a little bit larger. But in terms of risk for the rest of the population, there wasn’t any, any more than there is with the other traveller households.
Simon Richardson 25:28
Yeah. But the fact that they were contained in one area might have, if it was explained, it might have made people a little less worried and cut down on the chatter on on social media.
Unknown Speaker 25:39
Is that ever possible? Maybe not.
Simon Richardson 25:43
Secondly, possibly for the health minister, this one if I may, we know that the pandemic will continue to cause lengthening, waiting lists for treatments to many other acute conditions. Are you working on a strategy to enable you to catch up as soon as the pandemic is under control?
David Ashford 26:01
Yeah, thank you. So I’m out have a good and timely question. I touched on this at the on the man in line at lunchtime, actually, when I was on the show, as Minister of Health, obviously, at the moment have had to suspend elective surgery. And I’m very conscious of the fact that that is meaning people have to wait longer. Because we have the same thing during the outbreak last year, we are keen to try and work with our third party providers to try and bring in additional resources to help bring the waiting lists down. The biggest challenge we face is, of course, the situation the UK is in wherever third party providers are. They themselves have their own challenges. And quite rightly, their priority is themselves. So we are limited in the additional resource we can pull in. But we will certainly as a department where we can be looking at waiting list initiatives to try and bring those lists down. Because as I’ve said publicly before, I am deeply concerned by the length of some of those lists. And we do need to get them down.
Unknown Speaker 26:55
Thank you very much.
Howard Quayle 26:58
I think it’s worth pointing out that the health services in the UK and further afield all of your Europe are virtually at breaking point themselves and to expect us to be able to get a surplus of of spare staff to come over to help the Ireland is not a reality in the short term. But obviously I know David and the team will do their utmost to work on reducing our waiting lists. And that’s something I know the team are keen to do. Right. Thank you very much, Simon. Now we move on to Tim Glover from Manx radio. Good afternoon, Tim faster. My
Tim Glover 27:31
Esther my 47 cases are so make it that we’ve had in this since the new year. And a lot of people were talking of loosening restrictions, a lot of people still are concerned about the borders. So just to put in context that how many people this month have travelled. People going away for treatments or hospital people moving here key workers and people returning from travel.
Howard Quayle 27:59
Okay, well, we have seen a significant reduction, Tim, in numbers this month. So in the in this month so far, I can give you the figures we’ve had 32 compassionate cases of travel and 38 contractual cases, residents 670 cases have travelled. I’ll caveat that, that off that 670 resident cases, we have about 50 just over 50 a week or patient transfer. So if you work out that that reduces the actual residents travelling and keyworkers 83. So the as I say the figures are substantially down from where they were in the month of December. But still, you have to ask, you know, please only make a travel off Island if your journey is absolutely necessary. I know I was speaking to my good friend and colleague, the Chief Minister of Guernsey today and that’s exactly the message that he is giving to all his residents. Please do not leave the island unless it is absolutely essential.
Tim Glover 29:05
Just with that, following on from that. We’ve had a couple of concerned crew members from the parliament steam packet company. I’m just wondering how much public health is involved in this and other governments is the owner but it’s an arm’s length management structure that is worried about Manx crews mixing with UK crews on the band McCree and amongst crews are then going back to their family is it? I mean, if that happened, and there was a case there, it’s our lifeline.
Howard Quayle 29:38
Yet a good point to make Tim I haven’t had any complaints or concerns addressed over that. So I will take that to our welders they are mentioned to the doctor of public health doctor Dr. Ewart who I’m sure will look into it and give advice but it’s not something I’ve had as a concern raised with me but it could well be a concern is looking in too, and we and we will do and get back to I don’t know David or Henrietta adopt a year or two, if you’d like to expand on that.
David Ashford 30:06
And before I bring Henrietta in just to say that I have had a couple of issues raised with me by members of the crew, and we it has been passed on to public health to look at I’m not sure what the outcome of that has been bought, I’ll defer to the Director of Public Health.
Henrietta Ewart 30:21
Thank you. Yes. I mean, since the start of the issue, we have been regularly reviewing arrangements for various groups of employees seem packet would be one flight crew would be another in order to risk assess, and then try and put in place mitigations that balance the needs of the service that they work for with public safety and safety for the individuals. And we are currently re reviewing the steam packet arrangements.
Howard Quayle 30:55
Okay, Tim, and we’ll, I don’t want to discuss individual companies details, but if we can, we’ll give you an update on that. Right, next. Next we have is Paul Moulton from Alamin. Television. Good afternoon, Paul Foster, my
Paul Moulton 31:08
lovely Chief Minister, what were the news that this outbreak had Kim Williams College, I believe was 26. overseas students were allowed to come back to the Isle of Man and form this bubble. Was this done under any litigation without your laws? Or was this just a wave of through until obviously very concerned that this could happen that 26 people from different parts of the globe have all come back and being put in this bubble?
Howard Quayle 31:31
Well, these are pupils who have been residents of the Allah man on the whole for a number of years now. It’s that they’re part of the International Baccalaureate programme. And they’ve needed to be at King Williams College. But I think Kim Williams College have been very responsible, they’ve automatically isolated them the minute they came back. And that has ensured that we haven’t seen any cases pass from those students in their own bubble into the rest of the island community. I don’t know if David or doctor, you would would like to expand on that, please.
David Ashford 32:03
Yeah, I can say, I echo what the chief minister has said. They are residents on the island by virtue of their studying here. They have most of them have for a number of years. Therefore they have the rights of entry. And they have been the college I think has been exceptionally sensible. And in a in the way that they’ve dealt with this. And they’ve bubbled all those students together. And it shows the fact this is contained, that they have done an excellent job in being able to deal with it. And I’ll pass it to the Director of Public Health.
Henrietta Ewart 32:34
Yes, there’s not really much to add to that. As I said in the earlier response to the earlier question, this has been contained from the start, ever before we got the first positive test result back. So there has been no wide risk to the wider community.
Paul Moulton 32:51
But it’s been called an exemption only through it’s always been called an exemption. Surely it’s just they’re allowed to come in there normally.
David Ashford 32:58
It’s an exemption under the under the fact that they have educational students as my understanding Paul. So
Paul Moulton 33:06
they don’t have done myself not an exemption. No exemption required
David Ashford 33:09
is my understanding is their educational students. So therefore, under the rules, they are allowed to enter the Ireland because by virtue of the fact that when they are students, they are resident on Ireland.
Paul Moulton 33:19
So they’re domiciled here, and that’s okay. Is it so I just make this clear. I’ve lost,
David Ashford 33:24
I’ve explained I’ve explained my understanding, my understanding is because they have educational students that are resident on the Ireland when they are studying, they are therefore allowed entry to the Ireland
Paul Moulton 33:33
and genomics now we’re running eight days behind. So is that now what were to expect as this will be the lifetime from now on now the we can’t look at Christmas and New Year breaks? isn’t any excuse for having this data? Will we be getting information any faster metal? Is that what you expect now to run as about eight, eight days delay?
Howard Quayle 33:50
Doctor, you it? Would you like to comment on that, please?
Henrietta Ewart 33:54
The turnaround time is five days rather than eight days. And in addition, I think there is some work on going to actually speed up the automatic transfer of results between the labs, which will speed it up a little bit more. But as I’ve said many times now, actually, this is not information that informs the immediate response to cases or clusters. It doesn’t help us contain them. It is just extremely useful for understanding patterns of spread. And that’s not an urgent need.
Howard Quayle 34:25
David, would you like to give a bit more information?
David Ashford 34:27
Yes, I certainly can. The government technology service has been working with the genomic Centre in the UK to enable us to access to have internet access at access, I should say to their systems. So it will speed things up and if work progresses as it is, we may well be able to access data data within 24 hours.
Howard Quayle 34:48
But as Dr. You would have said if we it’s not information that we need within 24 hours because it doesn’t factor in the way that doctor you it advisors and how we deal with this but it’s also Very good information to have. Right. Thank you very much, Paul. We now move on to Helen McKenna of Alamin. newspapers. Good afternoon, Helen faster my
Helen McKenna 35:09
afternoon. Firstly, this question is probably for the health minister. As far as I’m aware, in the UK, if a couple are expecting a baby, the father can be with the mother for the for the whole of the Labour but on the islands. This is this isn’t possible. And my understanding is that only at four centimetres of dilation. This is allowed. So I’m just asking what is being done to ensure the supports for parents expecting babies during lockdown as this could affect their mental health?
David Ashford 35:46
Yeah, I mean, we fully accept and I certainly accept as Minister, I mean, it’s a stressful time, as it is enough for women who are about to give birth, without having extra pressure put on top of them. The clinical advice and that’s what we work on is these measures are required to ensure that within no walls, infection control protocols, and limit any potential spread of the virus, if it is out in the community within the nobles environment. So we work purely off the medical and clinical advice. And the medical and clinical advice at this moment is in order to protect the noble site, that is what’s required. We do have to remember as well, on the island, we are in the situation where this is our one and only hospital, if we did have an outbreak within the hospital environment, that is much different to having an outbreak in a hospital environment in the UK, where there may be other hospitals to be able to transfer people between or two, we don’t have that. So unfortunately, with some of the restrictions we’ve had to put around the hospital, they will seem to be tighter than UK hospitals because the we haven’t got the alternatives they have bought, I do appreciate how much stress that is for women. We’re about to give birth. I’ve spoken to many of them who’ve been in touch with me over the last few days. And as soon as we can, and it will be as soon as we can. We will change those procedures, but it will have to be based on clinical and medical advice.
Helen McKenna 37:10
Okay, thank you. And my second question is for Dr. yoghurts, and you mentioned that the last community transmission case was Tuesday. However, I might just be Miss hearing things. But there’s a lot of information obviously of last few weeks. I thought it was Monday. Can you just clarify what exact date the last community transmission was?
Henrietta Ewart 37:31
The last community transmission by which we mean a case that doesn’t have any link to a transmission chain? So a sporadic one that’s just popped up with no explanation? That was Tuesday the 12th. Okay, thank you.
Howard Quayle 37:47
Thank you very much, Alan. Now we move on to Alex Bell from BBC Isle of Man. Good afternoon, Alex.
Paul Moulton 37:53
Good afternoon. And some very, very encouraging headlines came out of the UK press this weekend. Yesterday, the NHS boss in England said 140 people per minute were receiving the vaccination. And indeed figures from Scotland on Saturday suggesting that could be as soon as mid July. before everybody there is offered a job. Now I know naught point one 3% of all, stock taking from the UK is guaranteed. There are any guarantees as to the rate of pace which will receive these trades.
Howard Quayle 38:25
Right? I’ll let David take that. But if I could just carry out before he comes in, there is always a skillful play of words with some of these press comments, not by you, Alex, but by you and the UK where they say offered offered does not mean that you’re getting a job, it just means you will be offered a date. And I think we have to be careful with with with that when we take on board the comments made in the United Kingdom. But with that I’ll hand over to David.
David Ashford 38:52
Yeah, that’s exactly to echo what the chief minister has said. So for instance, I referred to in my remarks about us having the entire 50s population vaccinated by the end of May, what the UK is pledged to do is for them to have been offered a vaccination. Now that’s very, very different. And it’s the same with the cohort of the whole population, it will be offered because there’ll be in phase two, it doesn’t mean the vaccine will be delivered because the UK is getting their orders up to September as well. So they can’t vaccinate quicker than demand. The UK has started quite a high rollout. But as we again Lagos they will be limited by supply. I know there has been instances in the UK, which hit the media. I think the other day of reports of GP surgeries being asked to slow down in terms of the vaccination being delivered, because it wasn’t going to be able to keep up. They weren’t going to be able to keep up that pace because of delivery. We’ve also had the announcement on Friday from five sir, that the UK delivery of fossa vaccines may well drop 18% because the work they’ve got to do on the Belgian plant that will also have a core sort of knock on effect with us. But it’s important to have Focus on the fact when we talk about vaccine and whenever you hear me talk about vaccine, that’s actual physical jabs in arms, the dates we’re talking about, we’re not referring to people getting a letter offering them the vaccination, we are talking about having actually vaccinated people. And that’s a very, very important difference
Paul Moulton 40:20
is very much. And there’s a follow up question and what point into the vaccination rollout can we realistically expect to see changes in the one big thing which hasn’t really changed since last March the border policy?
Howard Quayle 40:35
Well, I’ll let David go into that. But it really will be at once were confident that we’ve got the vaccinations that we’ve delivered a certain percentage of our population, obviously, the most important categories are our high risk, then we will be able to say right at a certain time, we’ll be able to revisit our border strategies. And we’ve already asked our teams, our medical director, and our public health director to start strategizing when they think the advice will be that we can maybe move to allowing families say to come in to visit on the island based on what is considered to be a safe enough percentage of the population vaccinated. David, if you want to expand on that,
David Ashford 41:15
so we plan to have the over 50s. And the those the most clinically vulnerable, which is obviously the group’s most affected by the virus done by the end of May, I would say once those groups have done that creates the first review point. Now, I’m not going to try and preempt what decisions will be made off the back of that if any decisions to change will be made off the back of that, because I think it still depends upon infection rates elsewhere. And whether the UK has got their outbreak under control. Because as we know, with the vaccination, it only protects the person. In the UK, if people came in, they could still infect all the members of the population still can’t become cbcl. So our review point, I would say will be after the over 50s a dawn. That’s the first major review point. And then we would look at what potential impact any outbreak on the island would have against our hospital capacity, and everything else as we always do. But I would say that’s the big review point.
Howard Quayle 42:05
I’d like to carry out that Alex, obviously, if the UK see a significant reduction in the number of infections in their population, and it may well be much earlier that we review the situation. So if there’s no tablets of stone here, if the UK see a significant improvement, then we could consider much earlier than that, altering our own policy. But thank you very much, Alex. Okay, and last but not least, we have Sam Turton from Jeff. Good afternoon, Sam faster.
Sam Turton 42:33
My as to my chief minister, I wonder if we go back to your speech could be said about face coverings will remain was and will continue to be important. If we get to a point where social distancing is removed, and we can go back to as we were, what seems like a month ago, I think was about 12 or 13 days ago, will we see face covering still be advised beyond that period?
Howard Quayle 42:56
I think I’ll ask the Director of Public Health to advise on that my initial reaction will be no once we’ve gone through the full 28 days, and we’re confident is not in the community. But I probably better defer that answer to the Director of Public Health.
Henrietta Ewart 43:11
Thank you, I actually agree with the answer you’ve just given. If there is no local transmission, and we are as assured of that as we possibly can be, then there is no reason for us as the government or myself as Director of Public Health to recommend the continuance of using face coverings. But as was always the case, it’s down to individual decision. And if certain individuals feel they would feel more confident, if they continue to use a face covering then they can continue to do so. Okay.
Howard Quayle 43:45
Sam Turton 43:46
some. And secondly, when can we expect the skills to go back if we continue on this positive trend?
Howard Quayle 43:53
Right, again, that will be on the advice of our medics? I don’t know, Dr. You if you would be able to give some an update?
Henrietta Ewart 44:02
Yes, I mean, getting schools back in action is one of the things that one always wants to do as a priority. And so that is certainly one of the early things to review, that will need to look at what levels are looking like, they will need to look at what schools can do to mitigate risk through social distancing one way systems used to face coverings in school and so on. But we’re already having discussions with our colleagues in the Department of Education, to think about how that might play out.
Howard Quayle 44:35
Okay, thanks very much, Sam. And thank you all for your questions. So a day of some positive news with the deployment of the Oxford vaccine into our community. And also positive that for the moment, at least, the measures we have taken seem to have identified and isolated the virus. It is early days and we must not be complacent, but it is right for us to start looking ahead. We May reschedule the next briefing to Thursday so that I can update you when our review. In any case, we will let you know. As always, if there is a reason to hold one sooner, then of course we will. Thank you for doing what you have done. Thank you for staying at home. Thank you for wearing a face covering as much as you are. And thank you to everyone who is self isolating, you are making a difference. And if you have any COVID symptoms, then call 111 as soon as possible. As always, if you need information, please visit gov.im forward slash COVID-19 or call the community support line on 686262 or email COVID-19 community support at gmail dot i am. I will leave these things there for you today. Please remember the basics stay at home. Before you go out. Ask yourself Is it essential. If you do go out wear a face covering if you can, if you have any symptoms and stay at home and call 111 as soon as you can make the right decisions to keep you your family and your island safe and to protect our vaccination programme. And finally, I would like to personally thank all our track and trace team who I know have been working long hours in doing all the tests, the swabbing the tracing of all the high risk contacts of people who’ve unfortunately contacted contracted COVID-19 they really have done a sterling job for the people of the Isle of Man. So thank you very much. Bye bye