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 25 March 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 thank you for joining us today. We’ve reverted to our usual configuration today and I’m joined here at the podium with the minister of health and social care. And our Director of Public Health joined us on zoom. Just before we go to our regular updates, I do hope people have had a chance to watch the excellent session that we broadcast yesterday on emotional well being during lockdown. My thanks to Ross Bailey, our head of mental health to clinical psychologist Professor Davidson. And so Lindsey Christian from the wonderful I’ll listen organisation. And as always, thanks to James Davis for giving up his time to facilitate the discussion. You can find it on our YouTube and social media channels, and I would thoroughly recommend it. Now let’s go to our updates on today’s numbers and any other matters from the minister. David.

David Ashford 0:52
Thank you, Chief Minister. Turning to the statistics First, the total number of tests undertaken is 44,761. The total test concluded also stands at 44,761. There’s been 15 new cases identified in the last 24 hour period, bringing the total cases to 1545. Of which active cases are 646. There were 16 of those cases in hospital and three of those 16 in ICU. before handing back to the Chief Minister there is a couple of bits I just want to update on. I did touch on last week about masks on them being worn in dhsc facilities. So I want to give clarity on our common policy about them wearing masks in health and social care settings. We are now stipulating that patients attending dhsc Hospital and community facilities must wear a fluid resistant II are standard mask. These are the familiar three layer masks which help prevent droplets escaping when the where the coughs or sneezes. They are readily available in pharmacies look for the air quality standard mark. It means a scarf or all that ad hoc face covering isn’t acceptable. patient’s own masks are acceptable in vaccination centres, and we herbal we ask that people use the fluid resistant masks. But we can we can supply these if needed. Please don’t place the IR mask over your own face covering this would not fit closely enough. There is an exemption for those unable to tolerate a mask due to their medical condition. These patients should let us know in advance, then the receiving staff who will ensure patients in this category are placed at the end of the list and do not wait for with all the patients. Finally, if after the rationale has been explained, people refuse to wear a dhsc mask with no adequate explanation or it is not a facility where they are allowed to wear their own mask. They will not be allowed into the premises. Turning to the GPS now if I may and vaccinations, GP surgeries are working extremely hard at present to help their patients. It is a worrying time for us all. It has been extremely busy for the GPS themselves. They and their staff are working to provide appointments, answer queries, arrange tests, we new prescriptions and a host of other things. We have said for some time that patients with Clinical Queries about the vaccination in regard to their particular circumstances should discuss concerns with the GP. And that remains the case. However, surgeries are currently being inundated with some very detailed queries about vaccinations in general, which aren’t about whether that person should actually get the job themselves. staff in our surgeries have had some upsetting phone calls from patients who have been demanding answers in an unreasonable way. And sometimes rudely or GPS don’t know everything about vaccines. They of course understand authorization for each vaccine, and the key issues relating to people with certain conditions. But it is not fair or reasonable to expect your doctor to know every scientific fact or be able to answer hypothetical questions or predict outcomes in different scenarios. I must ask everyone with queries about vaccines to look at the array of information that is available online. No stone stone has been left unturned in the development and monitoring of the vaccines in use. And the information and data online will almost certainly in most cases answer your questions. This is also available on our own website, go to gulf.io forward slash vaccination and click about the vaccines. There you will find all you need to know about the AstraZeneca and five so vaccines, how they were developed, their side effects and the small number of categories for people were having the job may not be advisable. This is a very rich source of information. So please look there first before calling your GP, or GPS or working flat out to ensure those in most in need of care are getting it. And don’t forget, they too have staff shielding in self isolation or at home with young children, so are also under pressure. At this time, I would like to again put on record my thanks to our GPS and all of those in a primary care setting for all they are doing at the moment to keep our community safe. Also, another couple of quick points around the hubs. Please remember to complete the consent form before coming to the hopes to help with social distancing when attending your appointments. And also, don’t forget that the clocks go forward on Sunday, and the airport hub will be open for business. So if you have an appointment, make sure that you go at the right time on Sunday with the clock changes. Thank you, Chief Minister.

Howard Quayle 5:59
Thank you very much. It’s a very easy one to forget, isn’t it the clock going forward on Sunday, so good idea to raise it. Thanks very much. So the number of new cases continues to be low, and the rolling averages are all pointing in the right direction. Again, the frustration is like yesterday, we have a single unexplained case. On this occasion. Although we cannot be 100% certain, we have reason to suspect that this transmission may have originated off Island, we must not get us ahead of ourselves. This is a snapshot of the last 24 hours, there are still some way to go before we can have the confidence to start making changes to the measures we have in place. We know how quickly a single case can spread through our community. And the last thing that any of us want is to exit this lockdown too soon, just to be confronted by another community spread again and be back to square one. We all want this lockdown to be the last one. So although this may be good news, it is only the beginning. Let me hand over to our Director of Public Health for her update today, Dr. Yu it.

Henrietta Ewart 7:10
Thank you, Chief Minister, there’s little for me to add, in fact, to those figures, the curves as people can see on the website are coming down, but they’re coming down slowly. And with a stubborn tail to the right of the graph. Part of this is because of large amount of household transmission we’re seeing. And with some large households involved, that’s why the numbers are staying high, that part of the curve should start to come down over the next few days. The more worrying one is the persistent presence of the sporadic community ones. And obviously the question today that we may have had another cross border importation of a case, which we need to look at in more detail to try and understand. And that really just links back to what we’ve been saying for months now, which is however good, we get the position on the island, we’re only as safe as the last person across the border. So again, just to reiterate how important it is to follow to the letter, any self isolation instructions and direction notices that people have been given.

Unknown Speaker 8:15
Thank you, Chief Minister.

Howard Quayle 8:17
Thanks very much doctor. Even though we’ve been able to report some potentially positive news, we must not forget that this means that there are still COVID spreading on our island. And importantly, what we must not forget that behind each of these cases, is a person and a family. There are people who will be worrying, and there are people who are unwell and suffering, we must not forget this. So we may be starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But we must do everything we can do to maintain the momentum. If everyone keeps up the high level of vigilance, hygiene and social distancing, then we can continue our cautious move towards better times. This includes all those who are in self isolation, either as a result of being high risk contacts or testing positive themselves. I know it’s not easy, and thank you for doing the right thing. You are making a difference. I am glad that sense just Tuesday of this week, over 300 more members of our community have been able to leave self isolation. This is incredibly important for their own well being. It is also important to our frontline services. I know that so many sectors that are critical for keeping our Ireland safe and moving have been under pressure with staff members being directed to self isolate. staffing pressures at the hospital, which were a particular concern a week or so ago, continues to be closely managed, but are currently stable. And a big thank you to those of you who have picked up the phone to 111 when you have developed symptoms that might that might possibly be COVID related. This is the right thing to do. Don’t take a chance, call one of our clinics. Just before we go to questions, I would like to address a question that I know on is on lots of people’s minds, when will the lockdown end? It is still too early to really give any certainty to this. And the last thing I want to do is make promises that we then cannot keep. We have said before that we would hope to be able to make some changes around the sixth of April. If we do continue to see no unexplained cases between now and then, we may still be able to make some changes. Even if just modest ones around that date. We shall have to see as the days go on. I am sorry, I cannot give you any more certainty than that today. But I always want to be as frank with you as possible. What I can tell you is that our vaccination programme continues to deliver. earlier this afternoon, we passed another important milestone with 30,000 of our people now having received at least one dose the team and are busy focusing on those in their 60s, over 70% of those 65 to 69 year olds have had at least one dose already letters to the 55 to 59 age group have been going out this week. And letters to those aged 50 to 54 have also just now started to go out in batches with the last ones going out early next week. And we are still on track to have given at least one dose to all of those in phase one. So that is everyone of those over 50 all adults with qualifying underlying health conditions, and all health and care staff. And we have done that by around the third week of April. That is just over four weeks away. Plans are now in place for those and phase two. So all those between 16 and 15. And we will be sharing these plans soon. Let’s now go to questions. And first we have is Tim Glover from Manx radio. Good afternoon, Tim faster my

Tim Glover 11:59
customised Good afternoon. Just want to put a point again our listeners are making that the language being used by governments is along the lines of strongly recommended we do not expect encouraging guidance Do you accept this is leading to people to put their own spin on the meanings. It’s dividing people and our listeners are saying they want really just effective clear governance.

Howard Quayle 12:24
Well, we clearly cannot force people to wear masks stem, there are people who can’t wear masks. So we strongly advise people to wear masks. So we try and give a strong messaging as as possible. I’m not aware that our language when it comes to, for example, the wearing of masks is any different elsewhere. But maybe our Director of Public Health can give a comment on the language regarding giving advice to people on the strength that we use.

Henrietta Ewart 12:51
Yes, I mean, the main issue here is whether something’s enforceable. So making something a legal requirement, if you can’t enforce it doesn’t really help anybody. And ultimately, we really want people to make the decision that is the best for their health and the health of those around them. But if we cannot police or enforce the guidance, then it really needs to remain as guidance and not be made statutory. Thank you. Thank you. I’ll

Howard Quayle 13:19
just bring in the health minister to him. But I wouldn’t point out I don’t think we’ve changed our our messaging, strongly advise on on mask wearing for example, for the other lockdowns too, and I don’t I’ve never received any complaints about that. And it worked very well. So maybe David, you could give a comment.

David Ashford 13:36
Yeah, so there will be a difference in language, Tim, because there’s a difference in in different scenarios. So there’s some things that are stipulated in regulation, which are thou, thou must if you want to put it that way. And the language around that is always very clear that that is what people need to do. Outside of that space as stipulating legislation, you can’t cover every single scenario, that’s not physically possible, you would end up with pieces of ledger unwieldy legislation, hundreds of pages long trying to do that. So what sits outside that is guidance as to how people in certain circumstances should interpret certain things for their situation. And that is what we actually refer to so in a prime example of that is within the regulations around vulnerable people, we can’t do a regulation that covers every single vulnerable circumstance. So there is the main legislation that is that thou shalt piece of it. But around that there’s also guidance around how people should actually apply that. So there will be differences in language there. Because one is you must because it’s stipulated and regulation. The other is taking the common sense approach and saying to people outside of that, you may want to consider doing this.

Tim Glover 14:44
Okay, it’s the same. Just Just say, but maybe it’s in your hands is basically a phrase we hear a lot, but people are interpreting that message in different ways.

Howard Quayle 14:55
Well, we asked for common sense. We can’t legislate for everything. 10 when we ask people to use their comments, And it’s worked very well, the Ireland and the great Manx public haven’t let us down yet. So there will always be one or two people who will try and split the definitive with you and argue the interpretation. But the vast, vast majority of people understand and have gone on with it and have done a damn good job

Tim Glover 15:17
and move to vaccines. And we had great numbers last week of nearly approaching 2000 vaccines being delivered. This week, we’ve been down more 600 to 900. But there’s discrepancies again, between the table if I go to yesterday, it was 934. Vaccines deliver but then on the government Facebook page, it was saying 1015. So I’m just wondering why there’s differences in the interpretation of the figures on different government messages. And if we lower now, because we’ve got concerns about supply in the future. Okay, David, do you want to take Yeah,

David Ashford 15:59
I can take that it’s, it’s again, down to pretty much the same as we see sometimes with the main figures, it’s down to the snapshot point. So the vaccination dashboard is updated so many times a day. The daily updates also depend on the size of the mo the when the when people’s vaccination goes into the system. So what there will be is sometimes there can actually be something that’s carried over into the next day, it’s very rare, but that then can cause a discrepancy between what governments reported on say Facebook because the comms division have taken the snapshot at that point, compared to what the actual dashboard is saying against the data to actually register that. So it’s again due to the times of updates, because the

Tim Glover 16:39
company’s CEO that’s confusing

David Ashford 16:40
them, it is unrealistically they should be aligned. So I will speak to the comms division around that about why there isn’t that alignment, because they should be trying to align a top bought in relation to the vaccines. The 1000 a day, as I’ve said at this press conference before was always for those two weeks, because that was the weeks of major supply coming in. The supply will be disrupted over the next four weeks and will go down as we have explained. So that means the number of vaccines administered will go down. But we are still delivering against our supply available. And we’re still seeing actually some quite phenomenal figures when you actually think what 600 vaccines a day is as a percentage of population. That’s actually pretty good going.

Howard Quayle 17:20
Thank you very much time now we move on to Simon Richardson from business 365. Good afternoon, Simon customi.

Simon Richardson 17:26
Good afternoon, Chief Minister, a question was asked in a previous briefing for a breakdown of positive tests for returning travellers, how many day 13 tests have been positive, where day one and day seven have been negative. Now maybe the government website perhaps in the open data section could include the daily details of positive day one, day seven, and day 13 tests for returning travellers since the tests were introduced. Because when significantly reduced cases in the UK, the data would surely be helpful in analysing the changing risk, or returning again to the previous regime, or being released from self isolation, seven days following a negative test, rather than the current 14 or 21. Without testing.

Howard Quayle 18:14
Well, obviously data is important and being able to compare it with what’s happening in the UK is important equally, you’ve got to take into account have they come through the UK? So have they come from Europe, into the UK where it might be worse, I suppose if you look at data. Now, Simon, what’s worrying me at the moment in time is not so much the United Kingdom, but it’s France, for example, the significant increase in cases there and the number of variants. I don’t know, David, if you want to comment,

David Ashford 18:42
yeah, in relation to I’ll bring the Director of Public Health in as well in a moment. But in relation to the day one day seven day 13 tests, I’m not certain how easy that is to split out, because certainly from the dashboards I see within the lab, the lab just has as whether it’s positive or negative. They don’t seem to split it by that. I’ve got a feeling that’s a manual process that then goes on in the contact tracing team. So I’m not sure how easy that is to report because my understanding is that isn’t actually automated. It may be if it is, then it’s something maybe we could look at. But I’ll bring the Director of Public Health in because she may know better than me.

Henrietta Ewart 19:19
Thank you, Minister. Yes, I believe it is one that would have to be manually done rather than automated. I think the issue of data and data sets and where we actually stop is quite an important one, because obviously, there are multiple different iterations of data that can be done, a lot of which actually would require a manual component. And we have a very small analyst team. And obviously their time has to be prioritised. So we have to be a bit careful about saying just because it could be done, it should be done. If Actually, it’s not key to policy. It’s certainly interesting, but we’re not in the business of having sufficient capacity. Just to be able to To deliver infotainment if it isn’t actually serving a useful purpose. So it is one we could look at. But I wouldn’t want to give any guarantee about whether we could resource it at present. Thank you.

Howard Quayle 20:12
We’ll certainly monitor it, Simon. Anyway, your next question?

Simon Richardson 20:16
Yeah. Secondly, it’s from a reader actually a letter which we received this morning. He says yesterday, he got the bus from Hong Kong to Douglas. And as soon as he got on, the driver questioned him, and he asked him if this journey was essential. He told the driver it was because it was for food and asked him if he was asking every other passenger the same, apparently was. The driver said, Yes, we’ve been told to ask all passengers if their journey is essential. And that is, as of Thursday, it would only be for key workers. Now, there were others that came on the bus more or less the same thing. The exception was an older man who the driver refused entry to. Now after the reader got home that day, he checked the bus van in sight. And there was absolutely no mention of the guidelines. And now his question was why bus drivers being told to enforce this when there’s been no guidance released to the public. And if the policy is true about key workers only being allowed to travel, why the likes of coffee shops open? He says surely they’re having non essential shops open could be contributing to the unexplained community cases. Also, with the introduction of support levels, does this mean they can’t use public transport because it’s not classed as essential travel? For example, if somebody was providing support from peel to port Aaron, you’d hope that they’d not be forced to walk. But this guidance would indicate that maybe they would.

Howard Quayle 21:43
Rob Well, I think that the key word there salmon is is essential. So all the things you’ve described, would be classified as essential. I think it’s it’s good that if both drivers are saying is your journey, essential just to clarify with them, they’re not stopping. I haven’t heard about any people being stopped and attorney key workers that are going to be allowed to get the boss, I should imagine that the letter A person who’s written the letters, maybe misunderstood what the driver has said, To the best of my knowledge. Bus drivers will give people that allow them on the bus as long as they’re wearing a mask. And if they’re checking that their the journey is essential, then that’s no more than David and myself are doing here. Every time we do the briefing saying please stay at home unless your journey is essential. So I think it’s just hammering home the message that you shouldn’t be getting on a bus, if it’s if it’s unnecessary. As as I haven’t heard about only key workers being allowed on buses going forward. That’s news to me. And I’m pretty certain that’s not going to happen at this moment in time. Obviously, if we were seeing hundreds of new cases unexplained, that would be a different story. But the situation when at the moment, people can use public transport, but please, a wear a mask and only go out if it’s necessary.

Unknown Speaker 22:57
And we have confusion for it to be on the website and correctly described.

Howard Quayle 23:05
Yeah, I’ll have it double double checked. But as far as I’m concerned, you shouldn’t go on a boss unless it’s absolutely essential, but equally going to support someone who which you’re allowed to do legally can be described as essential. So there’s no problem there. Thank you. Right, thank you very much, Simon. We now move on to Sam Turton from Jeff. Good afternoon, Sam faster. My

Sam Turton 23:32
fastball, Chief Minister, I just wonder if we can ask for we start hear about use of each suspect the transmission may have originated off island for this unexplained case. How is this steam applications as the traveller or how do we have this?

Howard Quayle 23:48
Yeah, unfortunately, sound because it’s only one person. I can’t discuss individual cases. So you know, we’ve just tried to be as open with you and transparent as we can, but you know, we can’t discuss an individual case. So my hands are tied there, Sam.

Sam Turton 24:02
No worries. I’m just okay. Firstly, the superintendent’s medic this week said that the Constabulary received 16 calls, they need assistance, one person who had attempted suicide and 11 people who were making Fraps to do so. We’ve also on top of that got further evidence that more people are struggling under this lockdown. Basically, it’s how is the health service going to come out with this in a position to be able to support people and do we know exactly what that level of support may need to be at this stage?

Howard Quayle 24:33
Okay, I think maybe best David, do you take that?

David Ashford 24:36
Yeah, I’ll take that if I may, Sam in relation to mental health support that is absolutely crucial. We geared up after the last lockdown to be able to support people because these aren’t problems that will just go away. Because lockdown ends they are ongoing issues and we will be doing so again and I know that the mental health team are already looking at that and what support can be in place. We have online help as well available. As well as, as well as what’s actually available within the department itself. And the piece that was done with James Davies about health and well being was very, very good yesterday that was broadcast. And I would urge people to watch that. And listen to what was said in that piece. In terms of general mental health. That’s exactly one of the reasons we brought forward the bubbles because one of those who’ve been most struggling under this lockdown have been those who have had no human interaction at all, because they live on their own, or they’re on their own only with young children for company. So that’s exactly why we moved and brought in as quickly as we called this bubble, so we can give the support for them. We do recognise there are others that also struggle even if they’re in multi person households, because a partner may be out at work most of the day, but we’re not quite there yet with the cases to be able to expand that up. Same as with the lockdown, last lockdown, we’ve got to do things in stages, because what none of us wants. And what will be even more detrimental to people is if we had to go back the other way, and put people back into that situation where they’re isolated again.

Sam Turton 26:05
Right, especially the turnovers perhaps maybe unclear that power metres in terms of your department and in terms and in terms of scale and that launches. You see we gear up after this lockdown. But how does that result? Does that mean more staff? Does that mean a higher budget impression the next Treasury Minister for more money for mental health, because we had problems before the pandemic they haven’t gone away they’ve increased What is it is going to be done about this real

David Ashford 26:29
yes and more has gone into mental health over the last few years. In fact, mental health, as I said in keys the other day actually overspent his budget last year, and there was the ability to do that we do hold some reserves within the department that we can utilise, if necessary and give extra financial support unnecessarily to mental health. Also, if something occurs into year, we can always make further bids to Treasury to set something up. And the support that we had in place at the last lockdown is still in place, we are still dealing with the people that we know about. So it is a heavy thing hasn’t come to a complete standstill just because we’re in lockdown. So there is still support there. Some of it may not be as much face to face as it was before. But also health and well being isn’t just around what the department can do. It’s about what the individual can do to help as well. And also one of the things that helps facilitate that is human interaction. Because we know from speaking to people, that has been the thing that has caused the most problems, where people have been on their own feeling completely isolated, not having that normal ability to even just chat to someone. And that is precisely why we bought the bobble n. So it’s not all about what the department can do. Or you know what money we can push it. There are other simple ways as well that we can assist people out in the community. And that’s what we are looking to do.

Sam Turton 27:48
Again, I just second the chief minister quickly, Boris Johnson has opened the door to the idea of people being able to COVID vaccine before they can go into pubs. Is that something you envisage happening on the Isle of Man? Or would you legislate timboon the people who have chosen not to have the vaccine will not be basically unfortunate because of that.

Howard Quayle 28:07
Yeah, I saw that headline in the in the times today, Sam, and I think he’s saying it may he didn’t indicate it? Well, it’s something that they’re looking at. And it may be up to individual businesses, like individual businesses can insist you’re not allowed in if you don’t wear a mask for it. For example, we can’t enforce that. But an individual business can say that’s what you must. So I think it’s still too far in the ether yet for that to be to be clear, but it’s clearly a way of thinking I think was looking more and more certain is that some form of vaccination passport will be needed. If you want to go on holiday, once this lifts later on in the year that seems to be gathering momentum, but actually going into a pub, or restaurant, etc. I think that’s maybe a step too far. But we will have, we’ll just have to monitor examine and see if it seems to have a really good outcome. And it’s what our experts advise us, then, of course, we’ll consider it but not at this moment. So thanks very much, Sam. And moving on now to Paul Moulton from alleman. Television. Good afternoon, Paul, faster. My

Paul Moulton 29:10
Thank you. In your introduction speech, he said staffing pressure at the hospital, which was a particular concern a week or so ago, continues to be closely managed, but is currently stable. Is that correct? That’s right, Paul. Yeah. So I’ve heard from the northwest hospital trusts, I believe you’re part of that the Platinum group that gets together each morning. You’ve made a request or potential to look into the possibility of getting crew or critical care nurses deployed to the Isle of Man. Can you confirm or deny that is a potential in that and that doesn’t add up to what you just said that Everything’s under control?

Howard Quayle 29:46
Well, it does. If you listen to David’s explanation.

David Ashford 29:49
Thank you, Paul. This isn’t unusual. We’ve done this before when there’s been winter pressures, where that’s the whole point of us being part of the Northwest network. And it’s not we’re critic Nana kenosis is one of the areas because that would actually potentially allow us when we look to reopen things to be able to get additional support to allow us to reopen it. So even at the normal times, we’d be under pressure because of the number of people that are in hospital isolating. So this isn’t something unusual. We’ve done it before with winter pressures. Without COVID, where we’ve looked to potentially to use the Northwest network, there’s certain key areas where we would want to get additional support in, but it’s actually just astounding to see if that support is available. If we wish to call on us. We haven’t actually at this moment in time physically called on us and import. So it’s important that we have that ability to do so if required.

Paul Moulton 30:41
So can you confirm you didn’t make that request? Or looked into it, at least this morning, and that’s unusual from the people. I’ve got this information from this the first time you’ve asked for it, something’s going on. Is it not that no, this applicant backup?

David Ashford 30:53
Absolutely not pulled? And my understanding is it’s not unusual. We have done it before. And we’ve done it in ordinary times. We request wasn’t made this morning, the request, I believe was about a week and a half ago.

Paul Moulton 31:04
Okay, same question. It leads on to slightly the variant we’re seeing the people on ventilators, I believe that you said the three today I’m hearing that it’s particularly this is this is a much different sort of amount of treatment that’s needed compared with last time. And these people are actually on the machines much more. Can you confirm that that this is the case that it’s really much more serious than the last outbreak

David Ashford 31:27
will actually pull? No, because if someone’s ventilated, they are permanently ventilated. It’s not something they keep putting in and remove, and they’re on it permanently. So it’s exactly the same as the previous outbreak.

Paul Moulton 31:38
So they’re on longer than I should say they’re on for much longer.

David Ashford 31:42
Now that depends upon the patient. We’ve had several patients, as you will have seen from the figures that actually spent what for ICU purposes would be a very relatively short period in ICU. There’s no trends emerging from the figures I’ve seen that suggest anyone being admitted to ICU with new variants Is there any longer than anyone was in a similar sort of condition with the old version?

Howard Quayle 32:03
Okay. Thanks very much, Paul. Now we move on to Helen McKenna from Alamo newspapers. Good afternoon, Helen faster. My

Helen McKenna 32:11
afternoon ministers. My first question is for the chief minister. What are the rules for organised gatherings as there’s been a lot of discussion online, especially a lot of divided opinions, and specifically about the grip and luxy that met up over the past couple of days. And I think there just needs to be a bit of clarification about what is classed as an organised gathering?

Howard Quayle 32:35
Well, there shouldn’t be any other I organise gatherings, we’re not at that stage yet. People are allowed to go out to shop to exercise with their own households, but you’re not allowed to go to an organised gathering. Now, it may well be in the future as we start to ease off our restrictions that when the figures are down to zero unexplained cases, that we can allow organise gatherings outside. But at this moment in time, that clearly is illegal. And I know the police, they have their four rules, don’t they have engaged, explain, encourage and enforce. And I think they’ve been able to not just wants to this particular group to explain to them the situation. And then I’m reading on on on a posting that they’ve had, sadly had to enforce with an individual. But that says, you know, obviously a case we can’t discuss here, it has to go to the courts that one but it is not allowed to have outdoor gatherings at this moment in time.

Helen McKenna 33:40
Just as a follow up to that, I was actually talking to a police officer earlier. And he was saying that there is even some confusion about say if you pass someone on a public footpath, and you have a chat with them for like 1015 minutes. Is that classed as a you know, a gathering essentially?

Howard Quayle 33:59
Well, I think we had a similar type of question at the very start, we cannot legislate for every possible events that can go on. We are trusting people to act sensibly. And obviously saying hello to someone as you walk past when you’re walking the dog maybe and just going around them and keeping your distance. That’s human nature. We’re not saying you’re going to end up in in prison with that, but the rules are no different than we’ve been through this before. So we’re just asking people to be sensible and so the banks public have been fantastic with this. So I you know, I just can’t see any difference to what we’ve done before and if people follow the rules, we will be fine. People are following the rules. A number of cases are coming down the number of unexplained in the community is come right down. So that’s obviously working because people are following the rules. And if you go and gather in a group of 1020 people that is clearly breaking the law, if you walk past someone walking the dog and you stop and say a quick hello to them out as a civil servant. See, and then you move on, then you know, you’re hard pushed to say that’s breaking the law. But if you’re if you are told tight, you know, I’m more than one occasion, if it’s explained to you that you are breaking the law, and then you can continue to carry on doing that, then you can only expect severe action from the from the police, they are very reasonable. They have these four E’s that I’ve just said they engage explaining courage, and then enforce. And that’s what’s happened in this situation.

Unknown Speaker 35:30
Thank you.

Helen McKenna 35:31
My second question is probably for the chief minister again. And obviously, Easter is coming up. There’s been more money given to support businesses. But for businesses who are obviously missing out on Save the retail sector, and hospitality who might be missing out on more trade at this time of year, is there going to be additional support for these types of businesses?

Howard Quayle 35:54
Well, that’s why the Treasury minister announced on Monday that the support he was doing his he’s increasing the support and and he and he mentioned, looking at the rates, and people would get additional support based on the rate that they are giving. But he’s extending the support to enable people who are in these various sectors that you mentioned, to give them the best support that we can. So that’s why we announced it early when we needed to make a decision on this so that people knew way before the start of the Easter period that their business would not be able to open and therefore they can start to plan, maybe not make a load of food that they know wasn’t going to be able to be sold through the business. So we’ve given as clear indication as possible, they won’t be able to open before the Easter week. And support is there from Treasury and through the Department for enterprise to help those businesses. And if anyone has any concerns, then please do get in touch with the Department for enterprise who will be able to give you advice and the contact details are on the website for all businesses. Thank you. Thank you very much, Helen. Now we move on to Leon cook from three FM. Good afternoon, Leanne faster. My

Helen McKenna 37:13
Good afternoon. My first question is either for the health minister or the Director of Public Health. And it’s a question for the member of the public regarding timescales from when they received the vaccination letter. I know government generally encourages people to sign up as soon as possible, but is the for lack of a better phrase and expiry date of when people need to put themselves forward for that job.

David Ashford 37:34
At the moment, the answer is no. So for instance, if someone was in the over 80s category and hasn’t yet registered, they will of course, have had their letter, they’re still free to do so. As long as the vaccination programme is running, then people will be able to register. Obviously, if for whatever reason, the programme itself comes to an end, then we would obviously put that out publicly to say to people, if you haven’t already done so please register. But I would urge again, you’ve Give me the perfect opportunity to do it is for people to register as early as possible. So if you receive that letter, get yourself registered, because the vaccine does give you added protection. And we need that going forward as a society. And I’ll hand over to Director of Public Health. Yes, I

Henrietta Ewart 38:21
don’t really have anything to add to that minister. Kelly, the overall objective is to get as many people vaccinated as possible. So we certainly wouldn’t want to rule anybody out, because they’ve been a little bit slow in responding to their letter. Thank you.

Howard Quayle 38:36
Thanks very much.

Helen McKenna 38:39
And my second question, and it’s also regarding vaccines with the two priority groups that are coming up? And do you have a rough idea of how long you think this will take for the two groups to be completed in terms of their first vaccination data.

David Ashford 38:56
So if we’re talking the to priority groups coming up, which I assume is the over 50s, and that was actually contained in the chief minister’s speech where he says the full priority groups will be finished in mid April, the eighth of April. Okay,

Unknown Speaker 39:09
thank you.

Howard Quayle 39:11
Thanks very much, Leanne. And now last but not least, we have just Stokes from ITV. Granada. Good afternoon, Josh faster. My afternoon, Chief Minister question to yourself and Dr. Yu it please.

Unknown Speaker 39:22
You said the plan is to so aim for that sixth of April date for modest changes we’ve heard previously two weeks is needed for my last unknown case before changes should be considered. If today is to be the last recording. I’ll explain case that will take us to the eighth of April. So if we are still sticking to that two week timeline from the last unknown case, what sort of changes are you proposing could be made on the sixth?

Howard Quayle 39:48
Well, obviously, they will be light touch ones as I said in the speech. So I think last time we could look at the construction sector, obviously we had to shut the construction sector down. So outside events is Post Josh, I know I’m coming under a lot of pressure from garden centres who are looking to open up there, they tend to be outdoors too. So it’s too early to give you an exact detail list of who we expect to open up and what we expect to do. But it will be outside, more outside activities. But obviously, let’s wait for the data. We tried to be as helpful as possible. Obviously, with the SEC, there’s when we start to open up so and open up some of the restrictions with our young people starting to go back on the 12. I think we’re still on track or there or there abouts for that.

Howard Quayle 40:38
Thank you, Josh. In your next question. We would appear to have lost Josh so sorry about that, Josh. That must have been an IT problem there. So well, that said thank you all very much for your questions today. All being well, we will be back on Monday with another update. Until then, please stay at home as much as you possibly can. You can see it is really making the difference. We need to continue to drive down these cases. If you go out. Please wear a face covering. If you do go out for exercise, exercise locally and exercise safely. Low Risk activities that Avoid placing pressure on emergency services. should something go wrong. And please if you show any symptoms at all, do not brush it off. Do not put others at risk. Stay at home and call 111. Please continue to make the right decisions for you, your family and your Ireland. Thank you all very much. Bye bye