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This is an unofficial and unverified transcript

This is a very rough and unverified transcript of the Isle of Man Government’s Coronavirus Media Briefing held on Thursday 15 July 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.

I obviously do not own the copyright in the underlying words (eg, whatever has been said by the speakers) and I am providing these transcripts because they are of self-evident public interest. I think that I do own the copyright in the adaption/conversion into written text. I’m happy to license these transcripts publicly under a free and very open Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.

Howard Quayle 0:00
Well, good afternoon, everyone and my thanks for taking the time to watch and listen today, here at the podium with me as the Minister for health and social care. And joining us virtually is the Minister for Education, sport and culture. In recent days, the number of covid 19 cases on the island has been increasing. But with a strong uptake in our game changing vaccination programme, over 116,000 doses administered and over 88% of those eligible, having had at least their first dose, we have been able to shift our focus away from raw case numbers. This is because the protection vaccination gives us as individuals and our wider community is significant. The key metric now is hospital capacity, and the number of people who are seriously ill with COVID. I’m pleased to report that currently, we have no hospital admissions with COVID-19. As the number of cases increases, however, it is inevitable that we will see some people having to go into hospital. But each day more and more people in our community become fully vaccinated against the virus. And whilst this does not offer complete protection, no vaccine does. And we must remember that however it does enable us to move forward.

Howard Quayle 1:22
As Case numbers have crept up, so has the number of close contacts required to isolate for 10 days. We have been watching this number closely. I know the impact this has had on many parts of our community. Yesterday evening, the total number of people in isolation had reached around 900 with 800 of those being close contacts. Fully vaccinated, close contacts have not been required to isolate for several weeks now. So numbers have been lower than they could have been. And whilst we have made massive strides in rolling out vaccines, we still have around 12,002nd doses to administer in the coming weeks. That is 1000s of people who have identified as close contacts have been required to self isolate. This has affected staffing particularly for smaller organisations, with some having to temporarily close and of course it has affected our young people and our schools. This has caused understandable concern. Government has listened to these concerns and we have acted on them. Yesterday we announced a change in approach to isolation requirements for close contacts who are not fully vaccinated. A new home testing scheme was launched, meaning an end to PCR testing and self isolation for people identified as close contacts of someone with the virus so long as they have no COVID symptoms. This is all close contacts, whether you live with someone who was tested positive for the virus or not. This is our policy going forward. But the change also applies retrospectively. This removed around 800 people from isolation yesterday evening, meaning that they were able to return to work and school this morning, contact tracing will continue to take place and close contacts will still be notified. However, instead of being directed to isolate, they are now being strongly encouraged to take part in the free seven day home testing scheme. And to be extra vigilant for symptoms. Of course, I must be clear that this change of self isolation rules only affects those who are identified as close contacts. Anyone who is self isolating because they have tested positive for the virus must continue to self isolate in accordance with their direction notice. The home test kits called lateral flow devices are available in packs of seven free of charge. close contacts are encouraged to take a test every day for seven days from when they are notified, there are close contact by the COVID 111 team. These tests are less intrusive on people’s lives and minimise inconvenience, whilst helping to keep us all safe. test kits are first and foremost to offer close contacts peace of mind as to whether or not they are likely to have the virus. But the results also offer useful data for government in relation to monitoring the number of tests being used and the results. So we have launched an anonymous online reporting system on the COVID-19 website where close contacts can confirm their daily negative results. Anyone who receives a positive home test result or anyone who develop symptoms should immediately should immediately isolate and call 111. And they will be offered a PCR test that’s if necessary. If the PCR test comes back as positive, they will have to self isolate for 10 days. We have made 1000s of home test kits available yesterday evening for close contacts who were released from isolation. And my thanks go out to civil defence and everyone involved and making these quickly available. I know there was strong demand, and I thank the public for their patience. test kits are now available free of charge from a number of pharmacies around the island, with full details of participating outlets available on the COVID-19 website. kits will again be available this evening between 8pm and 10pm. From the car parks at balaka main High School, castle Russian the Queen lesson of the second high school and Ramsey Grammar School. If you’re collecting test kits, you must wear a face covering and if collecting from a pharmacy, please observe observe social distancing rules within the premises. As with so many twists and turns during this pandemic, I am ever conscience conscious that a number added a change in approach will be welcomed by some whilst others in our community will be more cautious. These decisions are never easy. It comes back to that phrase I often turn to the balance of risk. Our vaccination programme means that 10s of 1000s of Islanders are now as protected from the virus as is possible. We know vaccination reduces the risk of serious illness and death, and that it also reduces the chance of someone with the virus spreading it. This is a leap forward. And it means we can continue to adjust our approach to COVID-19 as we adapt and learn to live with the virus. Changes to self isolation and the introduction of home testing for close contacts is another step on that journey. The majority of close contacts do not typically go on to develop the virus, especially those outside the household of a positive case. Therefore, we need to take a balanced approach to this as we did when we removed fully vaccinated individuals from precautionary isolation. Whilst Of course there is a level of increased risk from this approach. We are now at that point where we must take a more proportionate response to these risks. personal choice, responsibility and judgement all remain important. If you’ve been identified as a close contact, think about how you go about your daily life in the 10 days after you’ve been notified. A combination of daily self testing and asking the public to consider mitigations and their personal choices is on balance an appropriate alternative to having large numbers of our community in self isolation. Once there is no legal restrictions on close contacts, anyone told they are close contact should consider telling their employer that they’ve been identified as a close contact and letting them know if they will be undertaking daily home testing, telling friends, family and colleagues who may feel anxious or vulnerable so they can make informed choices. Thinking about who they contact with in the 10 days after being told there are close contact, taking precautions that may make them and others feel safer, such as minimising face to face close contact, avoiding confined and poorly ventilated areas or wearing a face covering as appropriate. I know there are a number of topics the health and social care minister wishes to cover. So I’ll hand over to David. David.

David Ashford 8:45
Thank you very much, Chief Minister. The first thing I have to raise is that sadly, there’s been reports of recent days of members of the public being rude, verbally abusive, and even aggressive towards health and social care staff, particularly those who are swabbing at the grandstand and also people working in local pharmacies. Some of our swabbing team have even been reduced to tears by people’s behaviour. Although this is a minority, as they do receive many more messages of thanks for the amazing job they’re doing. abusive and rude behaviour is completely unacceptable and it has to stop. The team leader will not hesitate to call the police and will be fully supported in doing so should aggressive or rude behaviour continue. health and social care staff are trying to help all members of the public at the moment during what is very difficult and trying circumstances for all of us. And it’s important that people respect the very difficult role that those on the frontline are doing. So please let them get on with their jobs and respect them for the job that they are doing. Turning to vaccination status letters. monk’s care is providing hardcopy letters for Manx residents who require evidence of their vaccination status for travel. We would have hoped by Now to have had access to NHS digital, but due to the current prioritisation of our mt workload that has not happened. So this is an alternative means for those who are travelling internationally to be able to prove their vaccination status. The important thing to state is that it’s for urgent purposes only. So that means those who are travelling off island in the next two weeks, and where their destination country requires evidence of vaccination for entry. Many places require a test or another form of evidence for vaccination, and people need to check what is required by the specific country that they are going to. to be absolutely clear. The letter is not needed for travel to the UK. This week, monk’s care has provided 420 letters of vaccination status. So this service has been put in place as I say, as a short term solution for please only ask for a letter, if you’re travelling in the next two weeks, and that you are travelling internationally. Again, I’m disappointed to say we have had instances of rudeness towards staff and people making unreasonable demands and arguing with the call handlers. Again, please only ask for a letter. If you are travelling internationally and you absolutely need us. You do not require a letter to travel into the UK. Also a reminder for people to continue to attend their vaccination appointments. If people please check when their appointment is and don’t try not to miss their appointments. If you can’t attend your appointment due to isolating or other reasons, please let 111 know so they can rearrange things. Please also do not turn up to the vaccination hubs if you’ve been told to isolate have symptoms or returned a PCR or lateral flow test. And finally, Ramzi cottage hospital is the place to go for minor injuries. Earlier this week, we advise people with minor ailments and injuries to attend Ramsay cottage hospital minor injuries unit. Basically the unit up there does what it says on the tin. The specialists there are trained in dealing with minor injuries. And the hospital is equipped with the same standard and range of equipment for imaging as nobles, nobles emergency department is currently exceptionally busy at present. So medical emergencies, so continue to go to nobles as normal. But please go to Ramsey for minor injuries, because also it will benefit you as a patient as your weight will be much shorter. And you’ll be able to be seen by the superb nurse specialists that we have up there. Thank you very much, Chief Minister.

Howard Quayle 12:40
Thank you very much, David. Now the Council of Ministers has been reviewing a number of our COVID-19 policies and exploring what measures need to be in place for the summer. So we continue to flex our response to meet the circumstances we face. We have done this regularly throughout the pandemic. But it has been particularly important as we approach the dissolution of the house of keys and the general election. Changes to regulations will be go will go before Tim old at first shedule setting next week. And I will of course update you on what Tim will degrees. Let’s take some questions now. And first we have REM borooah from three FM. Good afternoon, Ariane customi.

Unknown Speaker 13:23
Afternoon. And my first question is, how do you determine who is a close contact? What’s the criteria you use?

Howard Quayle 13:33
Well, we have a team of investigators who will speak to the person and decide over the course of the last few days who they’ve been with how long they’ve been with. And they make that decision themselves. But I’m sure David can give a more detailed answer.

David Ashford 13:48
Yeah, I’m happy to come in chief minister. It’s a various range of things. And it’s looked at on an individual basis. So for instance, as the chief minister’s just mentioned there, it involves looking at who people have been in contact with and how that contact occurred. So for instance, have they been sat down in an enclosed environment with very little ventilation? Have they spent a substantial period of time with that person possibly talking face to face? Have they been hogging? Have they been interacting with that person? Or have they met in a wide open space, and it’s literally been a two minute conversation and move on all of that feeds into the team who then make a judgement around whether they believe someone is a close contact based on those things. So it is done on a unique in case by case basis. But those are the sorts of things that the contact traces are looking for.

Unknown Speaker 14:37
Thank you. And so just to clarify, if you haven’t been contacted by 111, to say that you are a close contact, then you can assume that you’re not Is that

David Ashford 14:48
right? That is correct. That’s been exactly the same throughout the pandemic period. If you haven’t been contacted by 111, then it they don’t have to do anything.

Unknown Speaker 14:57
Thank you. I just have one more question if that’s how Okay from a listener who has called in, She is the mother of a newborn. And she’s feeling pretty terrified about leaving the house. Could you clarify the government advice on protecting the very young now that the border restrictions have eased? Please?

David Ashford 15:21
Yep, I’m happy to say that as well, Chief Minister. Now, it is an exceptionally nervous time for many people out in our community. And new parents, particularly, you know, are going to feel very nervous. What I would say is the risks to young children, and particularly newborn children with COVID is very, very low. It doesn’t mean they can’t contract the virus, but they are, they are less likely to do so mainly because of their environments, a newborn baby tends to stay with the parents. So in fact, actually any contraction is likely to be from parents passing it down. But the risks to children, particularly of that age group, are infinitely low. So what I would say is, it’s natural that people will be cautious, but the risks are quite marginal, if people are concerned and there are measures they can take. So when they go into places think about is it a crowded place, is the place well ventilated. So for instance, if you’re going into a cafe are the windows open is the door open, you might decide that you want to sit somewhere different depending upon the ventilation in that place. So keep your you know, wash their hands as always, and if parents are really concerned they themselves may wish to wear face masks out and about masks do actually protect those around us and there is some limited ability to protect the wearer as well. And you know, more and more people may decide they wish to use face masks out on about with the current outbreak, and they should be applauded for doing so if they decide to do so.

Howard Quayle 16:50
Thank you very much, Ariane. Now we turn to Paul Moulton from Alamin. Television. Good afternoon, Paul, faster. My Hello there.

Paul Moulton 16:57
I was hoping Dr. Hewitt would be with you today. A very important day to hear from her really as but I understand she’s not there. So I’ll put this question to you. Are the medical advisors to komen 100% on board with the actions you’re currently taking?

Howard Quayle 17:12
Yes, they are. Indeed, Paul. I mean, David, you’re in contact with them far more than I am,

David Ashford 17:17
in terms of public health, public health is has been supportive. and public health has been at the Council of Ministers meetings when these decisions have been made. So Dr. Hewitt is on board. So the Director of Public Health has been involved in the decision making process. And certainly she’s not voiced to me, concerns around where we’re going, we have to remember everything that we do is a balance of risk. But the Director of Public Health has not opposed any of the measures that have been brought in.

Paul Moulton 17:44
The medics today is committed to be clear about this.

David Ashford 17:47
The medical, the medical opinion is actually split poll on all decisions. And I’ll be perfectly honest, there is a split in the medical opinion. Some medics don’t think this is the right approach something that it is. And that has been the same throughout the pandemic on every decisions that have made the some in the medical community who support certain certain decisions. And the some that don’t, you will remember during the main outbreak last year, and there was one particular medic to social media, but that, you know, there was other medics who were supportive of the approach. So it’s not that I can’t stand here and say it’s 100% agreement, because that just wouldn’t be true. But there are medics who support the route that were taking, it’s done on a balance of risk approach.

Paul Moulton 18:28
And this allows for that the medical medical director is on board.

David Ashford 18:33
So in terms of the medical director herself, and her views have been fed into the process, she does have differing views and some areas. And again, I’ve got to be perfectly honest on that. But we have to do things and counsellor ministers, we have to come to a conclusion, listening to all individuals. So we have to listen to public health, we have to listen to the wider medical opinion, we have to listen to the medical directors opinion. But we also have to consider other things because we’re not just discussing the individual health the nation, we have to look at figures around vaccination, we have to look at the economic impact and the social impact, and also the wider impacts of mental health and everything else. And from that Council of Ministers then comes to a view.

Paul Moulton 19:14
And we’re obviously seeing that in the UK that the wearing of masks continues in public transport, particularly those sort of things the government’s putting on an event for Cavendish, albeit outside admittedly, but is this a risk that we should be taking those with? Everyone should be thinking carefully about going to any big events with the inside outside with all without ventilation?

Howard Quayle 19:34
Well, you’re quite right, Paul, we are we are doing this. And we are asking people to take responsibility for their own actions. So if you feel that you have a severe health risk, and you’re concerned about going to a large area such whether it be the football match, which happened not long ago, you need to decide it as well. I’m going is it safe for me to go there. So we’re not saying you shouldn’t go but we say you should decide for yourself, whether you want to wear a face mask, it’s outside. So it’s not going to be in a confined area where there’s a greater chance of getting infection. These have to be choices for people and wherever you go, whether it be a small cafe where it’s poorly ventilated. So as David said, time and time before, are the windows open as the door open to get good ventilation ramp, people have to accept responsibility for their own actions. And I believe they will on the hill.

Paul Moulton 20:26
So your advice if you went to a supermarket, would you yourself put on a mask?

Howard Quayle 20:33
I suppose it would depend on the number of people in there if I went and it was absolutely rammed Yes, I would put on a mask I’d like I look forward to the day when I have time to go to a supermarket ball. But yes, if it was absolutely crammed, I would put a mask on if it was pretty dead. And the odd chunk time when I do go I try and go when it’s quiet. To get to a few bits and bobs

David Ashford 20:54
Mr. Ashford? Well, if you’re in a superstore, where there’s a large volume of people, most definitely I from this point on will be wearing a mask. And particularly if there’s not ventilation, I don’t believe it’s a well ventilated area. But again, this comes down to personal choice, Paul, people have to make their own assessments. So if your shops differ, shops are like anything else they differ, you’ll have some that have very, very good ventilation wide open spaces with not a lot of people, you’ll have some very enclosed, and people need to make a judgement call, personally, where it’s a crowded space with very little ventilation. I personally will be using a mask

Paul Moulton 21:27
that takes in buses and things like that as well, I can take it if you could suggest

Howard Quayle 21:30
on public transport. Well, it’s personal at this moment in time politics, personal choice. If I was to go on a bus, I would wear a mask. But that’s my choice. We’re putting it down to people to think and obviously if there’s only a few handful of people on the bus, well, people might decide differently. But at this moment in time, and it is down to the individual, we have to analyse Paul, that’s where our thinking had been previously say pre vaccination to where we are now 90% of the population of the Isle of Man have had at least one vaccination. And therefore the protection for and especially our most vulnerable, I think to have two jobs and two weeks apart two weeks since the last job is in the high 90s percent. So we have to move forward, the risk changes, and we move tentatively forward. I know people will be concerned I get the emails and text messages etc. as as much as I’m sure the Health Minister does. But we have to move forward. We can’t stand still, the number of people in hospital is zero. The vaccination has rolled out to a high percentage of our island and we’re taking steps forward to get out of your lives. And we’re asking people to think about yourself to look after yourself with the ventilation with wearing of mask washing hands very important thing and because of good hygiene and more people washing hands, we’ve also seen a significant reduction in the number of colds on the island. But anyway, thank you very much for that poll. Now we move on to Dave more from Manx radio. Good afternoon, Dave faster, my

Unknown Speaker 23:00
faster my does the government know how many people in the island is isolating? Are you in a position to gather that data? Or is it estimates and guesswork when it comes to making decisions with regard to isolation? Well, yesterday

Howard Quayle 23:14
I was advised that there was 900 I think I gave it to my speech day that there was 930 900 people isolating of which 800 were were close contacts. So by making the changes we did yesterday, we instantly took 800 people out of isolation that said if you have COVID-19, then you must stay in isolation. I don’t know David, have you got any better numbers? No,

David Ashford 23:37
the numbers change daily, because obviously you’ve got people going into isolation got people coming out. So during the main part of the pandemic, you people may have heard me at this press conference give a figure and there was a manual calculation done to get the figure each day. Currently, I believe it’s done as and when required to get a finger as they have for the chief minister speech. But the key point now is with the changes that we’ve done to isolation, the figure in isolation will come radically down. And what people need to focus on more is around the actual hospitalisation, we need to get to a point eventually, where COVID is treated like all the diseases, we don’t issue daily stats and everything else for all the diseases. And at some point, that point will come where we won’t be the level of information that’s currently released on the daily basis. Now, that will be maybe a way off yet. But certainly we do need to prepare that we now need to start looking at COVID. And this is another step on the way like we do all the diseases that circulate in the community. Okay,

Unknown Speaker 24:40
last night when it was announced, it’s now down to the individual to self isolate, etc. That would appear that the government is no longer taking responsibility is that the case is the government abrogating responsibility. If the situation worsens, we’ll be putting our hands up saying it’s no longer down to us now.

Howard Quayle 24:56
It’s down to the members of the public to make the decisions themselves or There’s not a case that we’re not taking responsibility. Dave, were just analysing the risk looking at the percentage of people of the population who have been vaccinated, and the impact that people having to isolate is having on the community, especially on small businesses. So if you look at the number of people who are close contacts, who will go on to develop COVID, it’s a fairly small number. And therefore, by handing out seven day testing kits, for those people to do every day, we off refill when we’re moving forward by helping the community, helping businesses stay in business, and helping people go about their daily life whilst trying to give as much protection as we can, to the general population. I don’t know, David, if you want to expand on that,

David Ashford 25:45
yeah, if I could, Chief Minister, and far from applicated responsibility, we are providing lateral flow testing, to allow people to continuously monitor themselves for the following week. But equally, in terms of what we were doing open till last night, to be quite frank, it fell behind the living with COVID process, because what we were basically saying is that if you were close contact, even despite the fact that you might not have the virus, we were going to legally isolate you for 10 days, with two tests. So what that actually meant is we were locking down an awful lot of people who wouldn’t have not infected who we’re not going to go on to develop the virus, and all of the economic and socio effects that come with that. And so if we are going to start living with the virus, what we have to do is allow people to make personal choices, but also allow people to start living their lives, because that’s the key thing. If you’re going to live with the virus, you’ve got to be able to live. And from my point of view, quite frankly, that policy slightly ended up out of step, what we’ve done yesterday is we’ve brought that policy back into line with the living with COVID strategy. And we are giving people the ability to test an abrogation of responsibility would have been saying releasing all the close contacts and offering them no ability to be tested, we’re not doing that we are providing the lfts. So they can continue to monitor. And if they test positive, they can come forward to 111 to have that verified, and then obviously be isolated away. So it’s about community responsibility.

Unknown Speaker 27:18
So just to clarify, then that what happened last night with the announcement about self isolation, etc. And that wasn’t you giving in to public demand.

Howard Quayle 27:26
No, absolutely not. David was a step forward in the fight against or living with COVID where we’ve given the testing kits, we’ve got 10s of 1000s of these lateral flow kits now on the island, and we I think we gave out 6000 last night to people to go forward. So it’s just moving forward trying to make people’s lives as easy as possible on the Isle of Man whilst we live and learn to live with COVID. Thank you very much, Dave. Now we move on to Paul Hardman for malaman newspapers. Good afternoon, Paul, faster mine. Definitely MCs master.

Unknown Speaker 28:03
A recent peer reviewed study found that one dose of the Pfizer vaccine offers barely any protection against the Delta variant. Now that we unknowingly importing this variant to our shores, what can you say to this significant proportion of our population? We’re still yet to have a second dose and now off the faces risk? And what about those who can’t be vaccinated? How are they to protect themselves once the virus gains a foothold?

Howard Quayle 28:25
Right. Well, I know David will want to comment on this and especially on the hardly any protection. Yeah,

David Ashford 28:31
so in relation to the study, I think you’re referring to Paul about the five star dose in relation to that that was taken when people were first dosed. And I also believe that that is in relation to symptomatic disease presenting symptomatic disease, it’s not in relation to preventing hospitalisation and death. Were actually Recent studies have shown that one dose, both of AstraZeneca and Pfizer are still effective against preventing, preventing serious illness and death. In terms of the actual enter in terms of people being in the vulnerable category. What I would say is the advice to the vulnerable is the same advice, public health advice that is put out around all the circulating diseases, which is exactly the messages we’ve put out now, which is around crowded spaces. Consider Do you want to be there? Is that the right environment for you? Do you wish to wear a mask while you’re out and about of it gives you that extra level of safety, cleaning hands, ensuring that hygiene is kept and also crucially, again, to make the point of ventilation of spaces, ensuring that you’re in well ventilated areas. So that’s exactly the same as we would offer as advice for other respiratory diseases that circulate in the community that people will be equally as vulnerable to, including many of those are vulnerable to COVID.

Howard Quayle 29:49
Yeah, I think it’s I’m glad you raised that poll because I quite often get emails or messages I even had a political colleague, misinterpret data where They were quite concerned, they’d read a graph, which they thought said that if you caught COVID, and you’ve been vaccinated, you’ve got COVID worse than if you’ve been non vaccinated. People tend to look at data and they don’t take into context, what that data is telling you. And I hope the Health Minister has reassured you that you do have a significant level of protection after just one dose from hospitalisation and death. Yes, it may not stop, you have a lower restrictions, and you’re catching it after just one dose. But it does give you that protection for the really key concerns we all have of having to go to hospital or even worse dying. Your next question, Paul,

Unknown Speaker 30:42
secondly, you say we have to move forward. What is the upside to importing the virus with this mitigation strategy, board level 2.5 family were able to visit, which is what was arguably the most damaging impact of the border restrictions. What is the trade off benefit of remaining at level one? Is it simply the benefit of the travel economy and facilitate tourism? And does this truly weigh up against the significant health consequences that we will face now that we have mass spread here, like one COVID example?

Howard Quayle 31:12
Well, I think you’re you have to look at all the data again, Paul, if you look at long COVID. The data up to 12 weeks shows that 10 12% of the population if they catch COVID will have long COVID. But that’s only 12 weeks, people like myself who have had it for over a year are down to about two 3% of the population. So we are moving forward as we have more of the population protected with the vaccinate vaccination programme. I think I said we’re now over 116,000 doses on the Isle of Man, which means nearly 90% of our population have now been protected. We know that our younger population are relatively lucky fortunate that if they do get COVID, it’s nowhere near as severe as those of us who are above a certain age. I don’t know. Do you want to add to that? Yeah.

David Ashford 32:03
So this is another step that we’ve taken on the road to normality. And we’ve said all along, that we will take steps. And I’ve always been quite honest, this was always going to be the most difficult part, because the borders were and are still our greatest defence. And as we release those and started trying to move back to normal, that was always going to be the most awkward part, it was going to be the bit that made people feel most vulnerable and most uncomfortable. And that is why we have again been taking it a stage at a time. But as we come to live with COVID, we have to move on. We’ve always said one of the measures we would use is our vaccination programme. And the chief minister’s laid out quite clearly there about the vaccination programme, we’ve got 88% of the population that’s had one dose 72% of the adult population has now completed the vaccination programme. And in fact, if you look at the vulnerable, so that’s those over 50 and those who are clinically vulnerable and and care homes, etc. 93% of our vulnerable population came forward for a vaccination. And of that 93% that came forward 96% have now completed the vaccination programme. So that puts us in a very different place to where we’ve been previously. And we have to remember again, why we did and went through the lockdowns while we went through that pain as a society, what we were doing was we were protecting the NHS to try and prevent it becoming overwhelmed. We know that the vaccination has a benefit there and preventing serious illness and ending up with people in hospital. And that is why that is now our measure. It’s not around number of cases. And I’ve as I’ve said before, if you had 1000 cases on Ireland, but all 1000 of those cases were well in themselves, your reaction would be different to say if you have 30 cases, and they’re not well, and they’re all in hospital. So it’s not around the numbers anymore. And it is sometimes hard, particularly since one of the driving forces and attentions over this pandemic has been on case numbers. And it’s hard for me as well. I’ve said that before, to switch that mindset. We’ve now got to start thinking of this as we do with all the diseases, and it’s the outcome that matters.

Howard Quayle 34:10
Thank you very much. Now we’ll move on to some terton from Jeff. Good afternoon, Sam, nice to see you back in your chair.

Sam Turton 34:19
First, my chief minister, I’m glad there was rushed to talk about vulnerable people. Because this morning we’ve had a selection of emails in from most of the people at Tara, Fiona and Victoria who have also been on the same subject, that there are vulnerable children on this island who have not been able to get vaccinated. And they’re concerned about not only their children being in school, but what happens over the summer if they can’t go out and play with their friends. And also what happens next September in the schools go

Howard Quayle 34:43

Sam Turton 34:44
What are we doing to protect vulnerable children? And just as a further point to that, they’ve said that the British Medical Association has warned the UK government that plans are currently irresponsible. If we’re following a similar vein of things. Are we not irresponsible in ourselves of doing this when we have these short And who have not yet protected?

Howard Quayle 35:00
Right? Well, I think I’ll ask David to do an element of that. And then if we can hand over to Alex, the education minister,

David Ashford 35:07
yeah, if I could take it from the health angle before we pass over to Alex, in relation to children, even those children that would be classed as vulnerable. So with underlying health conditions, there’s been various studies done around the world has been a very big study done in the US, where they’ve had large numbers of children that have actually contracted COVID. So it’s a very good population size to do it across. And even with the vulnerable category, the risk to children is exceptionally low. So they should they catch COVID, it is much, much lower than adults, and in fact, is in line with many other respiratory diseases that circulate. So it is natural, again, as I said, At the start, when we mentioned about the young baby and the new mother, for parents to be concerned, you know, it’s natural for parents to be concerned about their children, about the risks to them. But to emphasise, again, the risk, even to those in the vulnerable category of children is very low, as I’ve laid out before, exactly the same as we would advise for those vulnerable children in any other respiratory disease outbreak. The same applies about ventilated spaces. And the unfortunate thing is COVID isn’t going to go away, it is likely to be circulating in some form forever. And I think, you know, we’ve got to start moving forward with living with it. And that is going to be nerve racking for those who are vulnerable. But we have the public health advice there about ventilated spaces about mask wearing, about doing what people themselves feel is safe at this time. But equally, the risk to children I’ve got to emphasise, again, is still by the studies are coming out exceptionally low, even if they do have underlying health conditions. And they do fall into the vulnerable category. And I’ll hand over to Alex.

Alex Allinson 36:50
Thank you very much. I’m going to put it into perspective. I think as the health minister said, it is very important to remember that even those children with underlying conditions such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, current coronary abnormalities, all right, very, very small risk of actually getting seriously unwell or ending up in hospital. I think it’s also very important for parents to talk to their health professionals about their own child’s condition. Because at the start of the pandemic, we were worried about children who might have moderate to severe asthma. But now we know far more about the effect of COVID on children. And that’s at risk, and that concern has receded. So what I’d be saying to 20 on parents is if you have a child who’s got some particular medical conditions, please have a chat with the hospital specialist get their advice in terms of the right way of dealing with that risk. In terms of schools, we are making them as safe as possible. And we’re particularly emphasising the fact that if your child is unwell, for whatever reason, whether that be COVID, like symptoms, or diarrheal illnesses, or just the common cold, please don’t send them to school, please make sure that they’re well enough put before they go in there. Because by protecting yourself and protecting your family, you will also protect the whole community. Thank you, Chief Minister.

Howard Quayle 38:07
Okay, Sam.

Sam Turton 38:09
Thank you. And secondly, with in terms of the lateral protests, we’ve heard, I mean, maxcare and the government, Charles said today about the number of, of calls being made as affecting phone call lines across the whole government. In terms of that there’s also an issue here where testing has now been to take longer. I’ve spoken to him which case they said one of their constituents was thought to be a four day wait after lateral flow test come back positive. They’ve then rang up and said, I need a PCR test. And they’ve been told they can carry on with their daily lives until we have a PCR test. Is this system, essentially setting up the failure?

Howard Quayle 38:45
I certainly hope not. I know they’ve been inundated at this moment in time, Sam with phone calls. I think they had 1600 over the weekend or whatever. But David, I know you’ve been looking into this. Yes,

David Ashford 38:55
yeah. So in relation to 111. There was particularly pinch point pressures over the last few days. And because of the numbers of people, because let’s not forget 111 has to book all the testing as well, that will now be relieved by what we’ve done with close contacts, because they do not have to book all those close contacts for PCR testing, but also having spoken to had a warm, warm one this morning. They are in the process of changing their procedures. So for instance, I had a constituent who’s been waiting several days, they have their test book today. And the system seems to be speeding up again. In terms of lateral flow testing, there is no legal requirement for anyone to isolate off a positive lateral flow. But personally, I would suggest this is only myself. I’m not a clinician. Personally, if it was me, I would I would isolate until I’d had the PCR test.

Sam Turton 39:43
We’re just in terms of though this is also going to be affecting people returning to the island. Is this not going to prevent people from being able to travel until they’ve been double vaccinate? Because if they expect to get a test within 48 hours, and are looking at 72 to 472 hours to four days?

David Ashford 39:58
Well, no. I’ve just learned just laid out the fact that 111 has changed his procedures that should actually speed the testing process up. So just as we saw in January, if you remember some, if we go back to the January outbreak, we saw a peak. And 111 was absolutely inundated for several days, and people did have to bear with us, the same has happened again. But the pressure is now starting to believe. And by doing all the changes we’ve done with the close contacts, it also releases pressure on that service. Because previously, what 111 would have done is they would have had to book in all of the close contacts for a day for a day one test. And they would have had to book them all in for their final test as well, on day nine, for the isolation, they will not have to do that now. So that releases testing capacity, it really uses capacity for 111, to deal with all the queries. And that’s what we’re starting to see today.

Howard Quayle 40:48
Yeah, so hopefully, in a couple of days, Sam will be back to the sort of standards that people have expected for a turnaround. But as David’s just explained, now the remote people available to do the testing for the people who are coming back from trips or coming to the island, or have had COVID and need that final test. So we reacted to a situation where we knew we had a problem. And this has certainly helped the situation going forward. But thank you very much, Sam for those questions. Less last night. But last but not least, Alex Bell from BBC Isle of Man. Good afternoon, Alex faster. My

Unknown Speaker 41:24
good day. And earlier in this week, England’s government scientists advise that people there could expect to see up to 200 daily deaths and up to 2000 hospital admissions every day. That is when restrictions are lifted, they’re next week, and extrapolate those figures down to our population size, you do your round out at about one to two deaths a week, and more than a dozen new hospital admissions each week two, is that living with it? Can the hospital cope with those numbers? Who might be spending a long time in hospital? And are you as the leader of the government prepared to accept that potential consequence?

Howard Quayle 42:06
Well, that’s UK figures. That’s not what we’ve been led to believe we have to 300 cases on the Isle of Man at that moment in time, Alex, and we have no one in hospital no one seriously ill but I’m sure David who will have analysed that data will be able to give a more detailed, informative comment on it.

David Ashford 42:25
Yeah, Alex, that when you say scientists, you’re referring to one particular piece of modelling that was done for the UK. Now that modelling is not entirely accepted by everyone. In fact, there are people out there such as, for instance, Professor john Bell, who advises the government who doesn’t agree with that modelling that has come forward. And in fact, the real world data isn’t actually at the moment showing that in the UK. So for instance, if the last set of most recent set of data from the UK, the complete set of data is the 13th of July. So what’s that 48 hours ago, were the 694,298 active cases of those 3615 are in hospital. So that’s 0.52% of active cases, there’s 522, requiring ventilators and that 0.08% of active cases. And the daily deaths as a percentage of active cases is 0.01. Now, that is the lowest these figures have been in the whole pandemic period. And as the UK vaccine rollout has gone along, you can actually plot it on a graph and see how it’s fallen away. And that compares to say seven months ago on the 13th of January, where the UK had 1.7 million active cases. And they had 37,000 people, well, maybe 30,000 37,500 people in hospital, and over three and a half 1000 people on ventilators. So the picture is very different. And also when numbers like that are quoted, it can sound very scary to us as a population of an island of 85,000. But we have to put it into context. Those are numbers in the UK against a population of roughly around about 68 point 1 million. So in fact, actually the numbers in the UK commonly, although we keep getting media headlines around hospitalizations are doubling. They’re doubling from a very, very low level and much lower level than they’ve been at all the peaks. And even although the UK case numbers are going up hospital admissions and the death rate is not keeping pace with that. But we do have to be honest, as an Ireland as we come to live with COVID there will be hospitalizations as the chief minister said in his speech, it will be remiss to say we’re going to not have any more hospitalizations, there will be people in hospital. And as with other diseases, unfortunately from time to time, tragically there may be a death here and there. And we we have to acknowledge that as an Ireland. But as we move forward we have taken cautious steps. We haven’t exactly mirrored the UK. We have put different measures in place. And I actually think that at the moment, the data that’s driving it is right. We’re not saying it’s a one way street, we keep an eye on the hospitalisation figure. And that is now our measure. If we saw issues with the hospital and with hospitalisation, then we would have to consider what we did in response to that.

Howard Quayle 45:18
I think it’s also, if I can just interrupt for a sec. Alex, before you move on to your next question. I think it’s important to note too, that sometimes people who are terminally ill will have COVID and COVID won’t have killed them, but it will be recorded that they died with COVID. And and we we had a number of, of our sadly, of our of our deaths on the Isle of Man that came under that category. So we may well have people who are seriously ill in hospital. And it will be saying we will say that someone is in hospital with COVID. But COVID may just be something that’s there. But it’s not the issue that’s making them to be seriously ill. So we have to take that on onto account, we’ve also obviously ensured that we do the two plus two. So it’s not just anyone coming in from the United Kingdom, it’s people who are fully vaccinated who have had the two week gap. But as I say, we have to learn to live with this, sadly, people will die from another of a number of illnesses and flu, and the common cold is one of them. And we’re seeing less of that because we’ve improved our our hand hygiene, for example. But these events will be out there. And sadly, we’re going we’re seeing all sorts of reports coming out. And there’s an element of scare mongering and sensationalization of some of these reports, and some of them are very factually correct. And we’re more than happy to give a comment on what has been put out there and and try and put it in a balance for the Ireland.

Unknown Speaker 46:42
Thank you can I ask how many people you would expect to end up in hospital or today? Based on your modelling?

Howard Quayle 46:51
Well, we don’t have modelling on how many people we expect to die, we are doing our utmost to ensure that we have no deaths on the Isle of Man. I think if you look at the UK rate per 100,000, it’s over 190. If you pro rata that on the Isle of Man, it’s just over 30 I think it’s 34. So we are doing our utmost Alex to ensure that the people of the island are protected. But sadly, people will die on the Isle of Man through various illnesses, and they may well have COVID at the same time. That’s something we are doing our utmost to reduce the risk. But at the end of the day, we also have people whose mental health is being destroyed because of restrictions with COVID. We’ve seen an increase in suicides, we’re seeing operations being cancelled, or historically, because we’ve had to put wards aside for for COVID. So trying to get that balance, right is is incredibly hard. But I think the record that this administration has, is pretty good compared with an awful lot of jurisdictions around us.

David Ashford 47:52
Thank you. Move on, then. Sorry, Alex, if I could just come in as well with one final point, which is actually a very interesting thing that I heard yesterday, from some conversations I had with people in the UK, is the figure actually of daily deaths from people not being able to receive all the medical treatments due to COVID restrictions, has actually now overtaken COVID the rate of COVID deaths in the UK. And we have to remember that as well, that what we do, there’s other medical conditions out there. There’s people suffering from cancer, there’s people suffering from other conditions that need to be treated as well alongside COVID. So I thought that was quite an interesting piece of information I had shared with me from a conversation I had with someone in the UK yesterday. So the figures have now overtaken in terms of deaths from other illnesses who’ve been waiting for treatment due to COVID.

Unknown Speaker 48:40
Thank you. Just to round it off, then I suppose that there have been some suggestions increasingly on social media you might have guessed, and suggestions from perhaps the more How shall I put it? tinfoil helmeted among those that the bottlenecking at the a&e this week was caused by people having side effects severe side effects from COVID vaccines, able to provide any figures on people who’ve presented at a&e with vaccine injuries. And indeed, what would you say to people who still haven’t taken up a vaccine offer?

David Ashford 49:13
David I take that. Yes. So I am happy to answer that one. Alex. It’s not true whatsoever. I mean, you know, I’m afraid that’s something that someone has literally just made up and shoved out on the internet. Absolutely flabbergasted by that one. It’s not true whatsoever in terms of people presenting with presenting with issues around the vaccine. It’s been literally a handful throughout the entire vaccination period that have presented and in some of those cases, it’s not turned out to be anything to do with the vaccine. So it is not true whatsoever. And what I would say is the vaccine offers the best protection we have of a society of getting out of this. We’ve already quoted the figures were 89%, basically 88 going on 89% of the adult population. had at least one dose, there is 72% of the adult population that now have had second dose, I would urge people to look at the actual real world figures, look at what’s happening in the UK, go online plot out on a graph compared to their cases, their death rate, the hospitalisation rates, and plotted against the takeover vaccine. And as the vaccine takeoff goes down, the other lines go good goes up, sorry, the other lines go down. And I would say to people, it’s not just about protecting yourself, by getting vaccinated, you are also helping to protect us as a community. So I would urge anyone who is eligible for a vaccine to come forward, as I’ve always said, it is personal choice, I would never try and force someone to have a vaccine. And from my point of view, it is personal choice people need to make their own decisions. But I certainly as minister of health and social care, would urge people to come forward and be vaccinated.

Howard Quayle 50:52
Thank you very much, Alex. And it’s always good to hear from the comedy side of Facebook, sometimes I think we have to realise that an awful lot of what appears on Facebook just isn’t true. And I would urge people to just check for themselves and most people have a laugh at some of the comments on on Facebook. But to think that the hospital swamped with people who have had bad reactions, you know, just isn’t true in any way, shape, or form. But I suppose never let the truth get in the good way of of a story. But anyway, thank you all very much for your questions today. That’s all for today. But I’m sure you’ll all join with me in wishing kav all the very best and and we genuinely hope that he can win another stage and set a world record. He’s a fantastic ambassador for the Isle of Man a credit to the Isle of Man. And I wish him well. And if you have time to come down to the screen at the villa Marina. It’ll be showing from two o’clock on Sunday. And I think it’ll be a fantastic event. So thank you all very much. Have a great weekend. Bye bye

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.