This is a very rough and unverified transcript of the Isle of Man Government’s Coronavirus Media Briefing held on Thursday 21 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 in today 15 of our circuit breaker lockdown. Once again, we are joined by our Director of Public Health on zoom, and the Minister for Health and Social Care here in person. As I mentioned you on Monday, the council of ministers met today to consider what the emerging situation meant for us, and most importantly for you and the measures we have in place. I told you on Monday that if the situation continued to move in the right direction, then we would be able to consider some changes. I want to take you through that. And also through our view on next steps. But before I do, I will invite the minister of health and social care to update us on the testing numbers. And I know he has a couple of important updates.
David Ashford 0:50
David, thank you, Chief Minister. Turning to the figures, first of all, the total number of tests undertaken stands at 26,452. The total number of tests concluded also stands at 26,452. So that means that the time of the report being taken for today, those awaiting results was zero, the total number of cases remains at 432. With no new cases identified, there are currently 48 active cases with one of those cases in hospital. There are a couple of topics that I want to touch on today. The first of these is the over 80s vaccination letters, the final batch of letters are due to go out today, inviting those in the over 80s category to come forward for their vaccination. Everyone within this category should have received their letter by the middle of next week. If after that point, you feel that you fall within that bracket and have not received a letter then please contact 111. But just to stress again, this is only if you are in the over 80s bracket and have not received a letter by the middle of next week. Another important point is can is contained within the letter is a form for completion. Please ensure that you keep hold of the form and bring it with you to your vaccination appointment, please do not send it back to 111. On a similar point, the letters are being sent out based on the addresses held on the individuals health records. So if you have recently moved address, please ensure that your new address has been notified to your GP surgery. This will ensure that when it becomes your turn to be called for vaccination, the letter is sent to the correct address. The next topic I would like to raise is in relation to patient transfers on the vaccination. Those individuals who need to travel via the patient transfer service can now be booked for a vaccination appointment from next week, the 25th of January.
David Ashford 2:52
There will be daily slots available to be utilised for this purpose. It is important to emphasise that the vaccination is only available to the patient who due to their medical situation is likely to be vulnerable to serious illness from COVID-19 should they contract it, it is not available to any escort that may be accompanying them. Before any patient can be vaccinated. It is important that a clinical assessment takes place to ensure that the patient is suitable to be vaccinated. This confirmation will be required from the red relevant medical professional directly involved in the patient’s care. The patient needs to obtain this confirmation and send it to the patient transfer office at patient dot transfers at Gov dot i am. The patient transfer team will then collate the information, and the 111 team will contact the patient to pick the vaccine. Sticking with vaccines, the clinical group has been reviewing once again, the time differential between first and second dose of the vaccine. As a reminder, we currently deliver the second dose of the vaccine at 21 days for the fossa vaccine, and 28 days for the Oxford, the UK has moved to delivering the second dose or 12 weeks. And as an as has been mentioned before we regularly keep our approach under review. It is safe to say that this is one of those things where there is clinical opinion on both sides of the argument. And here in the Ireland. We are no different in that, in that we also have clinicians on both sides of that argument. Our clinical advisory group has considered our approach to the vaccination second dose and through our governance procedures, procedures within department of health and social care. After much consideration of the scientific evidence and listening to both sides of the argument. The recommendation is that we stick with delivering the second dose after 21 days and 28 days respectfully. This is a recommendation The department has accepted and so we will not be changing our approach in that regard at the current time. As with all of our decisions, we will keep this under constant review. A topic I would like to touch on and provide some clarity on is individuals who can’t get to their vaccination appointments without a family member from a different household, driving them to or from that appointment. The current regulations and direction notices do allow for this, the vaccination appointment is essential care. And so if a family member from a different household needs to transport the person having the vaccine to the vaccination centre, this is fine. The regulations and direction notices in place allow for someone from a different household to transport someone for the purposes of care. In these circumstances, social distancing should take place as far as possible, the patient should sit wherever possible in the back of the car, and face covering should be used by all those in the car, the patient will need to be dropped and collected door to door, the person assisting them can’t due to the current infection control measures in place, enter the vaccination centre with them. In closing, I would just like to talk about the ronaldsway vaccine hope. I know there is much interest out there about the hope. And for those of you watching on video stream, we have some photos to share. The hope will come online next Thursday, the 28th of January as planned. There’ll be 10 cubicles, which can be used simultaneously. And I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone involved in pulling together and delivering this project, which will assist with our vaccination rollout. Thank you, Chief Minister.
Howard Quayle 6:41
And thank you very much, David. This now makes today the ninth consecutive day where we have not seen any unexplained community cases. Everyday without cases is of course a cause for optimism. But we must not forget that there this this is often an invisible threat. Let me invite our Director of Public Health to set this in context. Dr. urut.
Henrietta Ewart 7:03
Thank you, Chief Minister. Yes, as you’ve touched on there, the cases that give us most concern in terms of the threat to our community, or the unexplained cases, the cases that we can’t clearly link either to another case or a cluster of cases. And the reason those unexplained cases worriers is because they could be a reflection of the fact that we’ve got widespread community transference of COVID, some of which is under the radar because it’s asymptomatic. But then every now and again, a case becomes symptomatic. And then we register it because the person comes forward, they have a positive test. And when we do the contact tracing, we can’t find where it’s come from. That is a cause of concern, because we don’t know how widespread it is. It’s a bit analogous to a wildfire in a pizza mall, and where it can go under the surface, you think it’s gone, you think it’s been put out. But every now and again, you get a breakout of fire as it gets up to the surface. And that’s very difficult to control. And we’re always worried that at some point, it could lead to a large outbreak of symptomatic cases, it could get into some of our vulnerable groups, they could become seriously ill. And then not only is it bad for them, but it becomes bad for our health service, which potentially would be overwhelmed. So that’s the bad scenario and why we worry about the unexplained cases. The good news at the moment is that we haven’t seen any for nine days. Now we did have five since the Christmas and New Year. clusters and outbreaks, we had five that we couldn’t link to those lines of transmission. Now, taking into account the genomic sequencing results that we’ve received to date, we’ve actually been able to identify three of those unexplained cases as belonging to known clusters and transmission chains. So that’s good news in itself. And in fact, even with the two that we currently have, that is still looking unexplained, we’re still awaiting sequencing on them. So we may find that they actually link to chains and clusters that we knew about as well. So all of that is a reason to be increasingly optimistic, although still tempered with caution, because obviously, the incubation period for COVID is 14 days, the average is six. So actually, we’ve already gone past that average incubation time. So it’s getting less and less sunlight less and less likely that we’ve got on with chains transmission that we don’t know about, but we can’t yet be sure about that. Thank you, Chief Minister.
Howard Quayle 9:51
And thank you very much Dr. Hewitt. Now, Dr. uite, along with senior colleagues from across government, who have been leading the response to this outbreak, joined the committee ministers this morning to review our current situation. We wanted the most detailed picture of what the situation might be now that we have passed this milestone of one week with no evidence of community transmission, no unexplained cases. As the Director of Public Health rightfully reminds us, we are not out of the woods yet. While the risk may be receding, it has not gone. The last thing we want to do is to step boldly out of lockdown, and find ourselves having to go back in because we moved too quickly. We have to tread carefully. As I indicated on Monday, most of the immediate changes that we consider today are around outside spaces, where there is a broad consensus that the risk of transmission is significantly lower, especially if social distancing face coverings and good hygiene are also used. This will be a first step, but we are starting on our path back to normality. Let me take you through the changes that we are ready to bring forward in I’m bringing in from this first thing on Saturday morning. I will then come back to the strategic picture of how we see the rest of the circuit break lifting and beyond. from midnight, Friday night to Saturday morning. So that’s the first minute of of the 23rd of January, we will be easing a number of the measures in place. We will allow a range of construction and trade to return to work. This includes trades like electricians, telecoms, utilities, roofers, decorators, gardeners, builders, joiners, window cleaners, etc. The next part is important. As they all go back to work, they must still have mitigations in place. What do we mean by this outdoors. This means either working alone or maintaining social distancing, where this is not possible. For example, if you really have to share transport, please use face coverings. tradespeople may work indoors only if they are working alone on an empty property. The principle here is for this transition period to allow only very low risk activities. And importantly, not to have any level of additional household mixing. So moving on to households, given the evidence that outdoor settings with social distancing are very low risk, we are also able to light on some of the restrictions on us all being able to see people from other households. That means if you wish to meet other people’s such as friends or family, or wish to exercise with people from other households, you can do all this again, as long as this is outdoors, and you maintain social distancing. But I have to underline that despite these changes coming in on Saturday, social distancing will remain with us and continues to be important. And we will be asking you to continue to wear face coverings as much as possible. So if you want a gardener returning to work, or if you go for a walk with a friend along the seafront, or if you deck chair with your end, please keep your distance and if possible, wear a face covering the removal of social distancing and face coverings we hope will come at some stage soon. And I will talk about that shortly. But that moment is not now. It might be useful for me to go through what we are not changing today. For now, we need you to avoid indoor meetings with people who are not members of your household Dec chairing sitting in the park or a walk together is okay. But stay two metres apart. And please don’t be tempted to go indoors. We still need to minimise the link between different households a little longer. We need people to continue to work from home as much as possible. We are not quite ready to reopen even low risk indoor venues like non essential shops. And we will not be asking our schools to open their doors to all students just quite yet. I’ve said before and I stand by this that we will only have measures in place for as long as we judge they are necessary.
Howard Quayle 14:27
So where does this leave us going forward? To give people as much clarity and certainty as possible. We want to approach this in two simple phases. During the lockdown last year, from the moment we allowed construction to when we lifted all restrictions. That period was around 12 weeks. This time we hope to be able to move through these phases in around 12 days. To some this may seem awfully rushed, but you will recall that we entered the circuit break lockdown as a precaution. We did not know what we might be up against. But from where we are today, and from what we understand from analysing the cases, we collectively agreed that we should work towards a full exit after 21 days of no community transmission, that means subject to no further community cases, we would plan to lift all restrictions on all activities on or around the first of February. Now, this is of course, only a plan. It may change, but it is the latest position we have. And it’s just what I wanted to share with you all today. So from tomorrow, we move to a new phase, a transition phase before we lift all lockdown measures. I mentioned that this could be as early as the first of February, I cannot guarantee that will be the precise day when we return to the old normal, we need to keep the position under review. But the first of February will be 21 days after the last evidence of community transmission. And this is the date we are working towards. I hope that it provides you all with a line of sight to the end and a return of life we enjoyed for over six months at the end of last year. I know there has been a certain amount of speculation that the Council of Ministers would seek to continue longer term with some of the restrictions we now have in place. But to know, if we are confident we have dealt with this recent outbreak, then we will lift the measures. We will be refreshing our guidance as soon as possible. But what does this mean for schools, it is important that students do not miss any more school than is necessary. discussions are underway with colleagues in the Department of Education, sport and culture. They will be speaking to head teachers shortly to ensure that if all is well, they will be Oh, they will be able to open to all students from the first of February. So if we are able to lift all restrictions on the first of February, we will be back to where we were at the end of last year where all businesses are back up and running, where social distancing is not needed. And we’re face coverings are more a matter of personal and business choice. But there are of course some risks to all of this. The first risk is that there is in fact some virus still circulating in our community that we have not yet seen. When I say in our community, we know that there are cases where people are in self isolation. What I mean is, if we see cases pop up, where we struggle to see a clear link to a case we are aware of this virus can be invisible, and can pass from person to person without any signs. What will happen then, well, we may have to pause while we identify and isolate again, if a case does spread, then we may even have to come backwards in our phases. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to this. But I did want to be 100% honest with you that the risks of course exist as it is done all the way throughout this pandemic.
Howard Quayle 18:15
I should stress that we are still likely to have cases occurring, for example from travellers in isolation. But our key concern is of course cases of unknown transmission. Another risk is that another case of the virus arrives into our island, as seems to have happened around Christmas. I do not need to go over here how the virus and particularly it’s more easily transmissible variance is sweeping throughout our neighbours as we head and as we head into this phased approach to exit our circuit breaker lockdown, we need to be incredibly careful not to import new risk. We cannot jeopardise what you have achieved. We will not be making any changes to our border controls at the stage, our borders remain our strongest shields against the virus. We believe that the three test regime that we have in place at the moment focused on the traveller is fit for purpose. I know it is not easy. And again, I have to thank all of those who have been doing it. But it’s still right the right thing to do to protect our island. While we roll out the vaccine to protect our most vulnerable. We of course review our border position regularly. The Council of Ministers did take a look at whether we were ready to allow applications to resume for compassionate travel. And for those looking to move here and make our Ireland their home. Some of these cases are heartbreaking. We decided that as long as we apply exactly the same controls, as we do to returning residents, three tests or 21 day isolation, then the risks that compassionate and contractual travellers pose are no greater than that of returning Residents, and the absolute numbers are far more modest. So we have agreed that from next Tuesday the 26th of January, we will accept new applications for compassionate and contractual travellers only. I would like to repeat again, my advice to everyone, please do not travel off Island unless absolutely necessary. Now, we had a positive debate in timbal yesterday about the future about what the future might look like regarding our borders. I really look ahead, the word pivot came up a lot. members were rightly asking government at what point my border restrictions be a thing of the past. It is, of course, an impossible question to answer with a high degree of certainty. But I think some important principles emerged. First of all, we all accepted that we cannot keep these border restrictions in place forever. It is not good for the people or the economy of our island. The key moments in the future will be when we have vaccinated at least all those at most risk of getting sick from the virus so that they are protected. And then of course, when we have offered the vaccine to everyone are on our island. This means when we know they and our health servers are safe. on current planning, this first priority group could be by the end of May. This depends on a number of factors, some of which are beyond our control. It will depend also on how things are going with our neighbours. The Lord Bishop had a good way of describing it in terms of yesterday, he said that while the world may never fully eliminate the virus, it has to try to get to a point where it has eliminated the threat of the virus and the danger it poses. This feels right to me. For the moment, we need to continue our policy of local elimination while we vaccinate our most vulnerable. Once that is done, then maybe we can pivot mapping out what this might look like and what the triggers might be, is underway. When I have more news, then of course, I will share that with you. You have heard me speak a lot today. And I think it’s time we went for questions from the media. So first we have is Sam Turton from Jeff. Good afternoon, Sam faster. My
Sam Turton 22:20
first my chief minister, I just wanted to get started a little bit of housekeeping and newsflash, what you said we didn’t know. People were waiting resorts. And pretty much as you said, I got a message through saying, I still open up my resort back yesterday, a friend of mine, just in terms of Does this mean that there are no their testers come back, but they may not have been told themselves yet, or how does that work? Exactly?
David Ashford 22:41
Well, it is the report that’s given at these briefings is a snapshot in time some. So it’s a snapshot from the laboratory figures. So that would have been taken earlier today. The snapshot from the laboratory figures, so obviously, there might be people who’ve been tested since that report that are then awaiting results,
Sam Turton 23:00
and believes when people so their thing was they had this test taken yesterday. Well, this was the morning so
David Ashford 23:05
well, in that in that instance, they should have had the results back maybe they haven’t been able to be contacted yet to actually give the results. But certainly the results are back from those tests. There’s no way awaiting results outstanding at the time and the snapshot of the report which was this morning.
Sam Turton 23:21
Thank you and chief National Star we set about with debt Chairman work on the problem not in terms of with people this the will be the Can we just get the absolute clarity on what the advice is with masks on this situation. So I know people will ask again. So it’s just
Howard Quayle 23:36
we we strongly advise and we haven’t brought in legally that you must but we strongly advise people to wear face masks whilst walking and, or talking to friends. And obviously I use the desk chairing because that’s something we used a phrase we used last year where we said it’s okay if you want to go into a garden or sit outside of the door of a family friend. But you have to be obviously two metres apart. We’re recommending and we’re asking you to please wear masks where possible. So yes, it’s not legal, but we are still asking people where possible to wear face masks when they’re out and about.
Sam Turton 24:17
Thank you. Just secondly, with the potential for outdoor trades going back on the weekend early next week. The support packages have still not been completely paid for this month so far. Will that be continued? Or will this support stop at Saturday or will that roll on the end of the month as planned?
Howard Quayle 24:36
Now rolls onto the end of the month as planned. We are not insisting that outdoor trades go back to work. We are saying that they can and the support will still be there until the end of the month. Right thanks very much for that Sam now we have Rob precharged from three FM Good afternoon, Rob faster. My pastor,
Rob Pritchard (3FM) 24:55
my chief minister, first of all, you mentioned that if all goes to plan week Another transition period over 12 days, I think he said, I’m looking to lift restrictions. But you said there is also the possibility. And we hope this isn’t the case that if a case identified, you may have to pause or even roll back, given us such a small period where so much can change, you’re going to have the likes of teachers looking to plan lessons for children hoping to open from February, you’re going to have businesses that are going to look to plan to open up whenever that is, how can you offer some sort of clarity to then when that 12 days could potentially be extremely unpredictable?
Howard Quayle 25:33
Well, well, Rob, it’s a case that we cannot look into the future. And even when we came out of lockdown the last time, we still wouldn’t have come out if we had a case right at the last minute. So we are speaking to the head teachers, as as we’re talking now, our officers are speaking to them to advise and discuss, they will be allowed to start planning and going into schools net towards the end of next week to get the schools ready and get themselves prepared. So that on a week on Monday, we can open our schools. Now that work will have obviously got to take place and we’re more than happy for it to take place. If a case comes along in between, we will have obviously have to review the situation. Now. If it’s a case where we know they haven’t been able to in about much, and we’ve got it well under control, then it may well be that we can continue with that process. It really will have to be take a decision based on the expert advice from our Director of Public Health and on our medics but we are planning to give as much notice to people as possible and to our teachers that we intend to open the schools on the first of February. That’s Monday, the first of February. Thank you.
Unknown Speaker 26:46
My second question to the health minister. It’s something that someone mentioned regarding patient transfers and vaccine offers for them. Will any children who have to travel across for treatments also be able to get a vaccine if they’re a patient transfer? And if they have to have a responsible adult travelling with them? Will they also be offered one?
David Ashford 27:06
Right in relation to that Robert would do in relation to the child it would depend upon the clinical advice in relation to that child, as I’ve laid out initially, there has to be consultation with the person who’s in charge of that patient’s care. And that would be that would be dependent on whether or not they got vaccinated in relation to the responsible adult travelling with the child The answer is no. As I explained escorts will not be vaccinated. The reason for that being is our entire vaccination programme, not just here, but the UK is taking the same principles as well as other Crown Dependencies is the process is not about someone’s likelihood of contracting COVID-19. It’s around the possibility of the men coming seriously ill from COVID-19. Now escorts who accompany patients, by the very nature of what they’re doing. We expect to be healthy and able to assist the patient if necessary. So they would not qualify for a vaccine. It is the patient who was the person that is vulnerable to COVID-19 should they contracted due to their potential other health conditions, not the escort, so escorts will only be vaccinated when it becomes their turn in the programme.
Unknown Speaker 28:12
Howard Quayle 28:12
Thank you very much, Rob. We now move on to justo from ITV. Granada. Good afternoon, Josh faster. My Good afternoon, Chief
Josh Stokes 28:19
Minister, my first question could be for you and up to you at please. The initial end date many were looking at was the 28th of January, which was intended to mark the end of the circuit break lockdown that’s now changed to around the first of February. But at the last conference, we heard that we need 28 full days with no community transmission to know the virus has been fully eradicated from the islands or do you worry that the first of February may be too soon to ease many of these restrictions?
Howard Quayle 28:42
Well, absolutely. If you look back to when we came out of lockdown the first time seems like a while now goes seven or eight months ago, we actually came out on 26 days. We so it was if you look at all the data of the severity of the cases when we did it initially, the first time we’d had sort of I don’t know, around 50 separate clusters. This time we’ve we’ve had one real cluster that concerned us otherwise, we wouldn’t have had to shut down but I think I’ll ask the Director of Public Health to expand on my answer. Doctor.
Henrietta Ewart 29:15
Thank you, Chief Minister. Yes, what you’ve said is is quite correct. The 28 days comes from the standard public health health protection definition of when you can regard an outbreak of any communicable disease as closed. And that is derived from taking the closure point as to full incubation periods for that disease with no new cases. So for COVID with the incubation period being 14 days, that gives you the 28 days, but obviously as with so many things that is quite arbitrary. And as Chief Minister has said, within that you’re looking at what you’re seeing, are you continuing to get sporadic community cases popping up, in which case you would be more concerned about the length of time you leave after each one, before you feel that you can actually assume or accept that you’re not going to get any more transmission from that. So with the picture that we’re seeing, and with the very clear links back to specific travel related cases around the Christmas and New Year period, we are, you know, able to feel more confident that we don’t need to go through the full 28 day period. Thank you.
Josh Stokes 30:33
Thanks for that clarification as well. My second question, last time, the government had a six phase plan to reopen businesses. Chief Minister, can you explain a bit more detail how close you’re sticking to that original modelling? And can we expect to see a new roadmap with dates published specifically showing what what you plan to ease and when you plan to use it?
Howard Quayle 30:50
Yeah, well, as I as I said, at the end, my speed shots were having a two phase approach this time. The first phase is the allowing the trades, the outdoor trades to be able to start to work from from Saturday. And then from the first of February, we will be allowing everything is back to normal. Now, obviously, we we’ve learned from when we had the first outbreak of COVID. On the island, there was no rulebook there was there was no guidelines for us to to go through, we now have the experience of our first of the outbreak and in March and how we came out of that. We’ve learned from that. And with the advice of our medical experts and our Director of Public Health, we are suggesting that we have two phases or not. The second phase is the first of February, where we open up everything.
Unknown Speaker 31:38
Howard Quayle 31:39
And if I could just say that will be published later on tonight. Josh on our government website for everyone to see that clarification. Next we have a Simon Richardson from business 365. Good afternoon, Simon faster. My
Simon Richardson 31:53
Good afternoon, Chief Minister. My first question is for you really the recent Chamber of Commerce, impact tracker survey of local businesses painted a fairly worrying picture in respect of the negative effects of the lockdown with over I think was 25% had cash reserves to last a month or less. Now, are you worried by those fingers? And has it influenced the decision to move out of lockdown on the first of February?
Howard Quayle 32:24
Right? Well, obviously, all businesses will be feeling the pinch as a result of the lockdown more so obviously in the United Kingdom and further afield, where they’ve been in lockdown for considerably longer period than I have experienced on the island. So obviously, I have concerns and I hope those businesses will be okay. If there are any concerns, obviously, I would suggest they contact the Department for enterprise to see what help can be afforded. But No, it didn’t. The snap situation that report did not impact or have any important to how we’ve announced the coming out of this lockdown. It has been based on our medical advice and the advice from our Director of Public Health are based on what’s right for the island and the situation that we find ourselves in this second time.
Simon Richardson 33:11
Thank you. And secondly to the health minister, please. how pleased Are you with the level of take up of the vaccines? have you encountered any resistance among those who’ve been offered the job the job so far?
David Ashford 33:24
My understanding Simon is amongst the over 80s cohorts, we’ve seen a very high uptake. And certainly from what the amount of people who are booking via the 111 system, it seems to be very, very good in relation to health and social care workers. I’m aware that there’s also been a very good take up as well. And in relation to care homes, which we’ve started this week, other than those who haven’t got capacity where we’re having to deal with separately because obviously got to go through a consent process. For those who haven’t got capacity to decide for themselves. The patients with capacity in nursing care homes, I believe it’s again, a very large take up so I’m actually very pleased. Thank you very much.
Howard Quayle 34:04
Thank you very much, Simon. Now we move on to Tim Glover from Manx radio. Good afternoon, Tim faster, my
Unknown Speaker 34:10
faster my Good afternoon. Can I just ask about shielding those that have shielding? What do they do in this new scenario that we’ve got? And have all the shielding letters gone out? particularly those that are trying to get into the shops in the hours that they can they have to have that letter.
Howard Quayle 34:30
Okay. Thanks, Tim. I’ll ask David to answer that.
David Ashford 34:33
Yes, in relation to shielding term and as we said, Those who were asked to shield last time should continue to shield the letter they received last time was fine to use as proof as well. This time around. The shielding is based on primary care records as well as hospital records, the primary care records rest with the GPS. So when I gave the briefing on shielding, I did mention that the hospital consultants were sending out letters to their patients, for those that were under the care of Primary Care, the GP surgeries might lie to them, but they might well actually phone them or contact them in a different way, in relation to shielding the advice remains the same, which is they should continue to shield for the period of the circuit break lockdown. So in this instance, that would be to the first of February, assuming that we do come out of all restrictions on the first of February.
Unknown Speaker 35:22
We know that all the letters have gone out with just hearing. The Odd sporadic case where they have a bad letter, which they did get last time
David Ashford 35:30
that my understanding is in relation to those that are under the hospital, the letters have gone out, because like I say the hospital consult the hospital is the HSA in terms of primary care those records rest with the GPS, but certainly the ones that dhsc is responsible for as far as I’m aware, all the letters have gone out.
Tim Glover 35:49
And the second question, again to the health minister, we did have a bizarre phone call this lunchtime that the gentleman was outside of Newlands. He claimed he had a letter that was saying he was meant to be there today for his vaccine but Newlands was close. Are we doing three days? Still it did say on the release yesterday. We’re moving to do more tests today are more vaccines today. Could you just give us an update on the timetable?
David Ashford 36:17
Yes. So with Newlands at the moment, it is still three days a week when we were saying we’re doing more vaccines this week. That’s the care homes so they are continuing with the care home vaccinations this week. In terms of the gentlemen I am aware of of this. Were a bit puzzled by ourselves because the 111 system shows no one booked in for today and we wouldn’t book someone and because we’ve been vaccinating Monday, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and I believe the gentleman in the phone call also made reference to haven’t been sent a text message for the appointment. We don’t do text messages for the appointments at all to him. So I’m a bit bewildered myself by that.
Unknown Speaker 36:50
Howard Quayle 36:50
thank you very much, Tim. Now we’re on to Paul Moulton from Amman, television. Good afternoon, Paul foster my
Paul Moulton 36:56
Good afternoon, Chief Minister, you put some graphics on which we don’t By the way, see on our zoom version, but apparently showed the airport in the main concourse is going to have these testing areas put in? I don’t know cuz I’m seeing it. Can you confirm you’ve now moved from the hangar to the main concourse? Or was that just the way the graphics looked to the people watching at home? who contacted me,
Howard Quayle 37:18
David, would you say that?
David Ashford 37:18
Yeah, I’ll take a poll. That is where the vaccination hub was decided to be. It will be separated off, we will get the photos circulated to the media, they will be going out. So don’t worry, you will have access to them to say, and that is where it was intended to be. When we did the build. Initially, there was talk when we very first started talking about hope at the airport, which seems a lifetime ago now. But was probably about five, six weeks ago, we were talking about potentially looking at other options on the airport estate. But the one that was settled from the moment the project was designed was in using that space in the main concourse, there was more than enough space to do it. And we’ve been able to get the full 10 cubicles that we wanted out of that space.
Paul Moulton 37:59
This seems very late in the day. I mean, I was in Guernsey in the summer, and they were building as then you happen the speed of this?
David Ashford 38:05
Yes, because all of our hopes, as I said at the briefing on Monday in the piece where I did the fruit sort of frequently asked questions around vaccine peace is the hopes are coinciding with the ramp up of us receiving orders of the vaccine. They are designed to come online as our delivery increases, we can build wonderful hubs maybe even a month ago, but they wouldn’t be being used because we still need to receive the orders and supply the vaccine. So all of the hubs are strategically timed to come online as our supply of vaccine increases in line with the orders received. And no more updates on Ramsey The minute then. No, no, that will be as was said again, at the last briefing Ramsey will be looking to bring online in February, there are several sites that are actually viable for that as soon as we’ve decided which side best suits it from both an infection control and clinical point of view that I will update the public but the important thing to note is that we are committed to open the north as well.
Paul Moulton 38:59
Okay now exposes a dashboard for all the information about being broken down but more I know looking at jersey today they really do give you a lot of information that you know they with us yet we don’t get as much information as maybe we were hoping to and obviously supplies, you know mentioned that in your speeches today. We keep hearing that you’re not getting what you want.
David Ashford 39:18
What we’re no No, no, we’re not saying we’re not getting what we want from the supplies we are getting supplies based as we should be on our level of population. That’s how it works we receive 0.13% of the UK is orders because that is our size of population. As I’ve explained before, this is a brand new vaccine has to be manufactured from scratch by the manufacturers. So the supply as you would expect with anything that starting off from scratch starts off steady and then builds over a period of time as the manufacturers gear themselves up to produce. So as the orders into the UK build between now and September, with increasing orders in February and March. That is also what we will see as well. That’s not something new that’s not a disruption to supply that was always the case in relation to the emulation to the other topic which sorry, Paul, just remind me, what was your the point?
Paul Moulton 40:11
What are you doing that I was looking at what Jersey is doing that then? Sorry. So I don’t know if you’ve actually missed out on my question. dashboard and hitting information. And have you got enough? Yeah, that’s Oh, no,
David Ashford 40:22
sorry, sorry. I know I can I’ve actually you can’t remember what it was. But I can, Paul, I’ve just remembered that. And it was relation to the actual stats and putting up more around the vaccine that has been designed open, I would like to say thank you very much to the comms division and government it that has been designing this and putting a lot of work into it. We hope to have it live before the end of this week, or in the very worst scenario will be live before the at the start of next week. And hopefully, one day is briefing, I’ll be able to give people a website address that they can go to, to dig into data as much as they like. Okay.
Howard Quayle 40:55
Now we move on to Helen McKenna from Allah newspapers. Good afternoon, Helen, faster, my
Helen McKenna 41:00
ascidian ministers, firstly, the end of May was mentioned to you lift travel restrictions for priority groups who have been vaccinated. Can you explain more about this?
Howard Quayle 41:11
Well, no, we’ve said, that may be the case, we we can’t say an exact date, when we’re going to be opening up the island for people to freely move in. It will depend on a number of situations and circumstances. And obviously, when we vaccinated our most vulnerable people on the island, then we will be able to say well, what can we do now? When we go to change? What What can we change now that our most vulnerable people have been protected from the worst effects of the vaccine? at a David, if you want to add anything to that?
David Ashford 41:42
Yeah, yeah, I can add just that, Chief Minister. I mean, that gives us options. We call it we can’t say with any certainty that that does change the entire world and the entire picture, the priority groups just to remind people that uncommon delivery schedules and I do have to stress that on common delivery schedules are the vaccine is those aged 50 and above. So we are the expectation is, by the end of May, we will have vaccinated everyone in the categories aged 50. and above, that then gives us options to look at the borders, because they are the people most at risk of becoming seriously ill or having a bad outcome from the virus should they catch it. But there will still be other factors at play in relation to the infection rate in the UK, and other countries as well. Because obviously, there will be the under 50s population that still at that point won’t be vaccinated. But that does mark an important point where we can actually stop pause and look at what restrictions we have in place, and what leeway there is to change. But it’s not guaranteeing as with any of these things, that the situation will be changed at that point. Okay.
Helen McKenna 42:45
My second question is for Dr. yoghurts. And she mentioned previously that one COVID variants had been identified linked to the cluster of 15 cases. And they were obviously all travel related. Can you tell us more about this variance?
Henrietta Ewart 43:01
Yes, it’s a variant that has been observed quite frequently in the surveillance testing across the UK. And it goes back to the summer. So it’s been around a long time 99% of the sequences of that variant have been from the UK, it’s very rare anywhere else. So it’s one of the many variants that are circulating in the UK, and therefore not a surprise that it has come on Island. But since we’ve been doing sequencing, it’s only come on in respect of one specific traveller, rather than lots of different ones, if I can put it that way. And that’s why we’ve been able to link that cluster of cases to the particular event. Okay,
Howard Quayle 43:48
thanks very much indeed, Helen. And now last but not least, we have Alex bail from BBC Isle of Man. Good afternoon, Alex mastermind.
Alex Bell 43:56
mastermind, I’m not sure if this was mentioned earlier, forgive me if it was, in terms of the deck sharing of the households mixing outdoors with each other in areas there are limits on the amount of households that can mix.
Howard Quayle 44:07
Well, we would ask if you go to someone’s house that you can’t go inside, first and foremost, where possible, wear a mask, keep your social distancing of two metres from outside the person’s household. So you can set to you can talk, we would prefer not to have anyone other than from one household come to the person that we were saying, you know, this is only for a week, and just over a week, and then you’ll be able to have the full access to your family. But we’re just trying to be helpful where you have friends and close family that are missing and would benefit from a chat that if you want to go and visit them then you can visit them outside but you can’t go in But no, it’s not a from a house point of view. It cannot be several dozen different families all mixing on this doorstep having a chat with a friend so we’re just asking people to have a better Common sense, the Manx public haven’t let us down so far. And I’m sure they’ll do the right thing this time. Thanks.
Alex Bell 45:07
So there’s no hard and fast rule there. But you’re recommending two households.
Howard Quayle 45:13
One household, obviously, in the house, one household on the outside, not inside, not going in in any way, shape or form. But we’re not saying you can have a party in somebody’s garden. if everyone’s outside, we’re just asking, we’re just trying to be helpful here, where if you’ve got a family member that’s a bit vulnerable, and would appreciate you just go into the door, and having a chat with them for a better company. And then that’s what we’re allowing here, we’re not saying that you can have 15 people from 15 different households in the garden, all chatting to one another. That is not the situation. It’s purely one family household going and staying outside a property, whether it’s in a garden, or outside the door, more likely to be just outside the door than in the garden with the current weather. But it’s just trying to be helpful whilst we move forward, bearing in mind that we know people have mental health issues that would benefit from having a loved one just pop up at the door, say hi, are you okay? Just have that sort of human contact. So it’s just to know, I’m not, it’s two households. So you have your household in the house, one household outside, so mother and father and children could theoretically if they’re from the same household, calm and stay outside the person’s house, but we’re not we’re saying no more households that night. So, okay.
Alex Bell 46:34
And And finally, with these changes to trains and construction company at the weekend, is there any change on trade and construction stores being open to the public? Or are they just staying open to trades only,
Howard Quayle 46:47
as far as I’m concerned, the trades the stores can open for obviously, for repairs for essential repairs. I know some of don’t click and collect, but they should not be opening just yet. As I say it’s a very short period of time now before one Saturday happens where before long, if everything goes according to plan, the first of February, isn’t that far away now. And we will just ask people to to be to be sensible on this one. I don’t know. David, if you want to add on anything?
David Ashford 47:17
Yeah, just as just to say, Alex. I mean, the point of the next week is it’s a transition phase. Between where we are now aware we need to get to and the Manx public have been very responsible throughout this circuit break lockdown as they were during the last lockdown. And what we say to people is be sensible for the next seven days, we have released certain things to allow people more have access, because we all aware this issues with people not being able to see all the people, but we would ask them just to use that common sense and responsibility for seven or so more days to get the island where it needs to be.
Howard Quayle 47:54
Thank you very much, Alex, and thank you all for those questions. So from first thing Saturday, we will be into a transition phase towards our exit from lockdown. I know this will be welcome news for many. But please, let’s not forget that there is still a risk that there is a virus in our community. The best thing to do is to continue to act as if it is out there. The basics our waters got us here now. Wash your hands, keep your distance, wear a face covering if you can. And of course if you have any symptoms, then stay at home and call 111 as soon as you can. Please keep doing the right thing. This is what we’ll see as through to the end of the month, and hopefully out of all measures. We must not drop our guard, make the right decisions to keep you your family and your Ireland safe and to protect our vaccination programme. Thank you all very much