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This is an unofficial and unverified transcript

This is a very rough and unverified transcript of the Isle of Man Government’s Coronavirus Media Briefing held on Thursday 5 August 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
Good afternoon, everyone. And thank you very much for joining us today. I’m joined at the podium by the Minister for health and social care, and online by our Director of Public Health. since I last spoke to four members of our community have tragically lost their lives to COVID-19. Two of which were announced earlier this afternoon. I’m sure the thoughts of everyone on our island but with all those affected, mine most certainly are. At moments like this, I reflect on the decisions we have taken over recent weeks and months. And indeed, throughout this pandemic. None of these decisions have you ever been easy or straightforward? seeking to find the best course of action, whether as the Council of Ministers or as templed has always been a balancing act, something I’ve often mentioned at this podium, the difficult task of balancing the needs of our society, the needs of our economy, and the needs to protect lives. We’ve always sought to make decisions in the best interest of our island and our community. We only have to look at our immediate neighbours England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland’s jersey and Guernsey, and the different paths each nation has taken in responding to the virus. There is no single approach to dealing with COVID no obvious right or wrong answers, just differing perspectives, with each government striving to do what each feels is right for their community. The global response to the pandemic has first and foremost been about protecting lives, but it has also been about protecting our way of life. Throughout three lockdowns over a year and a half, we have worked together to save lives and buy time, time for effective vaccines to be developed, and to enable us to return to relative normality. Vaccines greatly reduce the likelihood of our people of our island becoming seriously ill or dying from COVID-19. This unfortunately does not mean that no one fully vaccinated won’t become sick or lose their life to COVID. But it means we have done our utmost to protect as many people as we possibly can. Our vaccination team has now administered almost 125,000 vaccine doses, there remains just under four and a half 1,002nd doses to get in arms over the coming weeks, at which point we will have vaccinated every adult on the island who has come forward against COVID-19. And there is more to come. Work is already underway on a vaccine booster programme for those likely to be most vulnerable to the virus. And yesterday, the jcvi recommended that vaccinations be extended to all 16 and 17 year olds. More on this in a moment. Last week, public health published an updated COVID vaccine surveillance report. It’s estimated that up to the 23rd of July of this year 60,000 deaths and more than 22 million infections in the UK have been prevented as a result of the COVID-19 vaccination policy programme. extrapolating this for the Isle of Man, we estimate that 91 deaths have been prevented on our island, along with more than 33,000 infections. Those figures put the power and importance of vaccinations into Stark perspective. vaccinations save lives. Despite the huge strides made through our vaccination programme. It is concerning that around 8000 eligible adults on our island have not come forward to be vaccinated against COVID-19. To those 8000 people, I would say this, vaccines are saving lives every day, right here in the Isle of Man. Please think carefully about the decisions you make. vaccination is always a personal choice. I know that there are those who cannot be vaccinated. But I’m assured medically that we are talking 10s of people who are not recommended to have it, not 1000s of people. We are always cautious on the level of information we divulge about hospital cases of COVID as we must respect patient confidentiality, but I will not hesitate to use information at our disposal where appropriate to demonstrate important public health messages.

Howard Quayle 4:31
I also believe that sharing information transparently with our community is an important part of helping everyone make personal decisions, a key part of our current response rather than government dictating practices. Firstly, whilst we have seen a relatively large numbers of admissions to the hospital over the last week or so, much of this reflects the wave of cases we saw that peaked that peaked on 10 days ago on Monday, the 26th Jul. hospital admissions for COVID tend to lag the actual case numbers by between one and two weeks. Our expectation now is that as case numbers have reduced, so the level of hospital admissions will reduce. Secondly, I think it is also helpful to clarify that out of the 16 COVID emissions at the end of play yesterday, seven were actually admitted for another reason, not knowing they were positive until they were admitted. Whilst everyone in hospital with COVID is of concern to us, we must must recognise that not all admissions have the same level of care requirements. So while some may not require any additional COVID care plans, they are simply there for other reasons. And finally, and most importantly, of the 16 people in nobles hospital yesterday with COVID-19 10 are aged on the 80 and seven of these patients were on vaccinated. That is a really important figure 70% of current patients aged under 80 are not vaccinated. If you haven’t come forward for a vaccine, there is still time. But please do not delay. Register online at COVID-19 dot gov.im forward slash vaccine or Call 111 today and register for an appointment. I’ll hand over to the Director of Public Health to talk a little more about that public health report the importance of getting vaccinated and the latest vaccination developments. Dr. Hewitt,

Henrietta Ewart 6:40
thank you, Chief Minister. The Public Health England report estimates the impact of vaccination on cases and deaths compared to what would have been expected if there were widespread COVID transmission in the community and no restrictions in place. So it gives us an illustration of the huge difference that vaccination makes, and also how different that position is for us now compared to last year when we had no vaccines. And we all had to rely on restrictions to reduce mixing as the only way to control spread. We’ve said before in these briefings how effective vaccines are in preventing symptomatic illness, serious illness and hospitalisation. So to recap on that, they give 85% protection from symptomatic illness, and around 95% protection from hospitalisation and death, which is a quite astonishing figure for reduction in risk. However, people can still become infected even though they’ve been fully vaccinated. And although the vaccines reduce the risk of infection and transmission, the impact on that is actually lower than the impact on symptomatic illness and serious illness. So this means that people who’ve been fully vaccinated can still develop infection, they can still transmit, although at much lower rates than unvaccinated people. And in some cases, fully vaccinated people will develop serious illness, some will need hospital admission, and very sadly, some will die. The strongest predictors of that are age and underlying conditions. So to illustrate that someone who is aged 80, and has been fully vaccinated, will have reduced their risk from COVID to that of a 50 year old unvaccinated person, which is a fantastic risk reduction, but it doesn’t reduce the risk to zero. vaccination is the most important tool we have against COVID. And our uptake on Ireland has been excellent. But as Chief Minister just said, we have around 80,000 people in the current eligible groups who haven’t come forward for vaccination. That’s way higher than we’d expect on the basis of known contra indications to vaccine, which are actually extremely few. So we’d really encourage anyone who hasn’t yet been vaccine vaccinated to really think about why they’re hesitating. And whether the risk of harms and benefits from COVID versus vaccination are such that the vaccination really would be the better course of action to take for anyone with an underlying condition, including immunosuppression, at whatever age, the risks of catching COVID significantly outweigh any risks from vaccination. And similarly, we’re strongly encouraging pregnant women to take up the offer of vaccination to protect both themselves and their baby because of the increased risks of COVID in pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester. So finally, just to pick up on the changes to the Joint Committee on vaccination and immunisation recommendations, Choose, which we will be following here. The current changes are now to include the offer of Pfizer vaccine to all 16 and 17 year olds, and dhsc and Manx care are currently in the process of planning the rollout of that young people aged 12 to 15, who are household contacts, people who are immunosuppressed will also be a new group to be offered vaccination. And the main benefit there is actually to protect the household member. And by so doing to relieve some of the stress and anxiety that some of these young people have heard that they may be putting household members at risk. Young people in the 12 to 15 age group with specific underlying conditions are already recommended to have vaccine. And the jcvi is considering further data before making any further recommendations for healthy 12 to 15 year olds, the balance of risks and harms there in terms of vaccination, and risk from COVID is very much more finely balanced. And that’s why JCB is waiting to bring in all the latest data on that and review it before making a recommendation for those age groups. But obviously, we’ll keep people updated as jcvi works through that. Finally, there is likely to be a booster programme for those in the age groups who’ve already been vaccinated. And this will be starting in the autumn. And again, we’re awaiting the operational delivery detail from jcvi as had that will be rolled out. Thank you, Chief Minister.

Howard Quayle 11:41
Thank you very much, Doctor, you attended a slight fraudulent slip in your comments earlier to 8000 people who have chosen not to be vaccinated I think he said 80,000 so I just thought I would clarify that. And okay, thank you again Dr. year to now, I’ve said on a number of occasions that our response to the virus is under constant review. And the Council of Ministers we have often have long and searching discussions on how best to proceed, take into account the latest evidence and advice. An example of this you will have seen earlier this week is in relation to face coverings. We now strongly advise everyone to wear face coverings in crowded and enclosed spaces. This remains a matter of personal choice. But the message here is about making the right decisions. And not just for you, but also for those around you and taking into account your choices in different situations. For example, on a bus you may wish to wear a face covering as you can be crowded, and with limited ventilation. We are not out of this pandemic. And whilst we continue our journey to learn to live with the virus, there cannot be a return to complete normality, only relative normality. And so we must continue to work together to prevent the spread of the virus, hands face space and fresh air. These four things need to be at the fore front of everyone’s minds each and every day. Cleaning hands regularly asking yourself if you should wear a face covering to protect you or those around you, especially when in crowded places. Likewise, keeping your distance from others and these situations where possible, and fresh air. Are the windows open. Could you do something outside instead of inside? We know ventilation makes a significant difference in reducing the likelihood of the virus spreading. All of these factors combined can help to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the Isle of Man. David, I know there are a few items you wish to discuss including the NHS COVID Pass.

David Ashford 13:52
Thank you very much Chief Minister starting with that with the NHS app update. The dhsc amongst care have ongoing contact with NHS digital in regards to gaining access to the NHS app that will provide proof of residence vaccination status. The department was initially given the 12th of August as a date for launch. However, due to legal matters on the UK side. This date is unfortunately not possible. We are working hard with NHS digital to get this up and running as soon as possible. And to sort out the issues in the UK his legal side. initially went live individuals will be able to ring 119 and request a vaccination certificate letter that will include the specific QR code that when scanned will show the appropriate COVID-19 vaccination information and also the relevant security measures. This means individuals will be able to travel internationally with recognised proof of their vaccines. Once this stage is live work will then progress to get access to the full app online for Ireland residents. Whilst this is ongoing, we remain with the temporary solution of requesting a letter containing proof of vaccination for monk’s care for those travelling outside of the UK, and will also now include an approved letter from DHS say, all residents are reminded that it is their responsibility to check that the letter will be accepted by the authorities of the country they are visiting prior to travel. The poor Director of Public Health just touched before on COVID-19 vaccination, and those in the age group at 16 and 17. dhsc will be looking to move forward with a vaccination for those aged 16 to 17. And the dose of the vaccine on offer is the face of vaccine. The updated advice means that we can be confident that young people will be afforded around 80% protection against hospitalisation following a first dose, and it’s expected that protection will probably be higher as younger people respond better to vaccination. As with the announcement last week on offering the vaccine to children aged 12 to 15, who were more success susceptible to COVID-19 planning has be gone, and the vaccination team over weighting the full documentation and indemnity to be provided by the UK Government. So we should be able to make announcement shortly on the rollout for both of those groups. Turning to the hospital statistics on the dashboard, we became aware of a post on social media late last night questioning the statistics of the hospital admissions. I can confirm that the case numbers are updated daily on the COVID-19 dashboard, which shows the number of patients receiving treatments in hospital with a COVID-19 diagnosis and those in the community have returned a positive result through a PCR swab. All patients commonly in hospital receiving treatment for COVID-19 are reported accurately in our data and feature on the dashboard. It is not correct that a particular patient does not appear on our dashboard, all patients do. Turning to care homes in the last hour or so it’s been announced an extension to the temporary closure of monks care Lauren homes that initially closed on Tuesday, the 27th of July in relation to Retton a bear, that extension will be maybe for a further 14 days with effect from 530 to tomorrow. And in relation to other residential care homes operating for older people, Max care will remove homes will remain closed for a further seven days, also with effect from 530. Tomorrow, visiting will be allowed on compassionate grounds, and will be managed on a case by case basis by the management team of each home. Thank you, Chief Minister.

Howard Quayle 17:44
Thank you very much, David. And now we move on to question time. And first we have Sam Turton from Jeff. Good afternoon, Sam faster. My

Sam Turton 17:52
festival Chief Minister, if I can have staff to help us to please we’ve had reports of staffing pressures at the hospital testing and results taking slower from the grandstand that people were expecting. The monks have also noticed some adult respite care services are being suspended. So that staff can be redeployed elsewhere is the health service coping of this property at the minute and also how much worse we leave? are we likely to get into the winter, when public helping when the warning of other illnesses coming back such as seasonal flu.

David Ashford 18:24
At the moment, the system is coping, it is stretched, I’ve got to be honest about that. We have staff, of course that have an isolation. And that means that staff happened to take on all the duties as well, I want to take the opportunity to thank all of those on the frontline, it is an especially a stressful time for them. And many people have been taking on additional roles to try and you know, care for patients and keep the system running. So I do want to take the opportunity to pay tribute to all of those on the front line, because they really are the people that are keeping the cogs turning, we were expecting that the system would come under pressure, particularly as COVID spread in the community. So we have the mitigations in place, we have the outbreak plan if we need to. And what you have seen there is where we do have to take temporary measures, then we will do so to preserve capacity within the system.

Sam Turton 19:14
A and just secondly, in terms of all that for 16 and 17 year olds, is the plan to use one central hub, or will it be going down the route which has been explored in particular London at the minute of going into the community and especially in September looking at using the schools themselves as providing an ease of access situation.

David Ashford 19:31
Well, we actually hope to have it up and running before September. And at the moment, we’ll wait and see if that actually happens or not. But certainly assuming all the correct paperwork is in place, we would hope to be able to utilise a hub system to be able to do it. The Hub system has served us well. But we will see what comes over from banks care and how they believe that the rollout can be most efficiently done. But we certainly hope assuming we can get the paperwork in place from the UK around the indemnity and the use of the vaccine to have it rolling out before we get to September. Hey,

Howard Quayle 20:04
thanks very much, Sam. Now we move on to Alex bail from BBC Isle of Man. Good afternoon, Alex customi.

Unknown Speaker 20:10
Good afternoon. And first of all, could we please have some clarity on the circumstances involving the death in the community today? Please,

Howard Quayle 20:19
rise. I haven’t got any diesels. David, are you able to get

David Ashford 20:23
a No, it’s too It’s too fresh at the moment, Chief Minister, we don’t have any further details on it. Other than that, is one death in the community. Okay, are we likely to get any information on it? Normally, it’s normally a couple of days later that’s by actually get the information around us. Again, it’s not full patient information, or the can be shared with me as any specific circumstances. But my understanding at the moment is of the two deaths announced one was in nobles and one was in the community, but we don’t get that information instantly. Okay, thank

Unknown Speaker 20:54
you. And secondly, there is some confusion as you address there about the numbers of people in hospital at the moment, people are seemingly questioning whether these figures are verifiable. In fact, I was speaking to a hospital patient earlier who was in a fairly serious condition. They said there appeared to be fewer people on that one COVID Ward than matched up with the official government statistics. And they also raised a bit of a query concerning the fact that once someone goes into hospital registers, COVID deaths 10 days after they have received that positive result, they may still be in hospital retrieving treatment for COVID. But they’re not listed as a hospital admission on the government figures. Why is there such an apparent lack of clarity about the numbers of people in hospital?

David Ashford 21:42
Right? I can comment straight away on that. And that is not actually true. People don’t drop off who were in hospital after the 10 days, it is only within the community that they’re presumed recovered. There is not a presumption of recovery in the hospital. They remain within the hospital figures. And the there is two currently in ICU. So the number will be lower on the ward than actually what is there. In relation to patients. As I said, there is absolutely no confusion. The figures are the figures and those are the patients in hospital.

Howard Quayle 22:12
I think Alex I think I said when I said 16 people in hospital. That was yesterday. I believe that numbers down to 13 today. Thanks very much, Alex. Now we move on to Ariane baru from three FM Good afternoon, REM customi

Unknown Speaker 22:29
afternoon. Could government publicly respond to a crack the request by the emergency advisory committee that you put in place a detailed roadmap of how you’re going to deal with the pandemic going forward, a roadmap that highlights the scientific advice behind policy pointing to the thresholds at which you would consider infection rates and death rates on the Isle of Man accept unacceptable enough to consider government action?

Howard Quayle 23:03
Well, those figures will only be as a I’m not saying an estimate, but different circumstances will happen. If we have just peaked and we’ve hit those numbers, then you’re not going to shut the Ireland down, if you know that they’re going to go full down the following day, for example, of our number of cases on the Isle of Man and the last 10 days have reduced by about 55%. But if you know that you’re close to those figures, and that you haven’t reached the peak, then obviously you might do it beforehand. So figures that we get and numbers that we may say this is when we’re going to make changes, you have to take them with all the other evidence as well going forward. I know David, if you want to expand on that, yeah,

David Ashford 23:45
I’m happy to Chief Minister going forward, it’s not just about the way it was declared previously. So for instance, in the past, we’re in tie when we were in elimination, and then the first bit of mitigation is very easy to do, because we looked at on, you know, measures such as the case rate per 100,000. But it’s not actually now about cases. So they will actually shift to looking at what pressure is the hospital under the hospital has its own outbreak and infection control plan. So we be looking at how stretched that is, we would be looking as well as what the outcome of those cases is. But one of the things we also have to take into account is also what is the economic impact and the social impact of any restrictions that we might bring in. So for instance, you know, there’s people who’ve actually suggested that social distancing should be brought back. But that has an impact on businesses, that has an impact on the way people can live their lives. And there is different things including mental health issues and so on that come off the back of that. So it’s not as simple as just having saying we hit case numbers that are at a certain level per 100,000 population. We’re going to do X, Y and Zed we now have to factor that in. So while it is important that we do have a structure plan as to how we respond As the chief minister said, such a plan going forward as we live with COVID has got to be more flexible than just saying if you hit this measure, you do X, it’s got to be the ability to take into account all the factors as well.

Unknown Speaker 25:13
And that plan will be made publicly available, will it?

Howard Quayle 25:17
Yes, once it’s been formalised, we’ll put it on our on our website. But as I say that the figures if we do put figures there, those figures will be there. As a general guide, they will not be there as you automatic This is what automatically happens if we hit a figure because as the health minister, myself have said, you have to look at the greater picture. Thank you. And your second question. And that’s, that’s it from me go. Thank you very much. Next, we have Paul Moulton from alleman. Television. Good afternoon, Paul foster my Hello,

Paul Moulton 25:53
we’ve been at these press conferences now for some time with the questions commonly been asked about how many people are suffering that hadn’t been vaccinated and up to now mustachio. In particular, you’ve said you cannot give this information yet today, now under extreme pressure from the public. And I know you’re on the radio yesterday, and this was constantly being asked to everyone. Now we can get some more details why things change now?

Howard Quayle 26:14
Well, we’ve been asking for them for all the time the council of ministers are restricted by what the our medics and data protection allow us to to state I don’t know, David, if you want to expand on that, in

David Ashford 26:27
fact, we’ve been able to go off and compile the data, because we’ve had permission to do so. And it’s as simple as that, as I’ve stated all along, we actually need permission to be able to collate that information. We’ve been able to do that with the snapshot of the patient’s currently in hospital. And that’s why we’ve been able to release that. But it’s not guaranteed that we will always be in a position to be able to do that.

Paul Moulton 26:50
I mean, a lot of people see it is a wave of this hiding things. You have this data protection II. So Patrick Vallance 20, July, was giving out information on this very subject and you’ve held back this long, and it’s given clarity, do you not understand how important when you come in front of the public, to have clarity for people it most

David Ashford 27:07
certainly is Paul, but we also have to recognise we have to comply with the law.

Howard Quayle 27:12
And also, now, just let me clarify further, we’re a small island. So if I was to say there’s one person in intensive care, who’s not say had the vaccine, that person is instantly recognisable, Sir Patrick valances is dealing with millions and hundreds of 1000s of cases. So we on a small island, we have to get the permission of the people to state whether they are vaccinated or not. So whilst it’s something Of course, it’s important as a government, we want to get that message out there that the vaccine protects your lives. Now we for the first time, we’ve been able to get the permission, and that and the data clearly shows that a significant proportion of people in hospital with COVID have not been vaccinated, and therefore the importance of the vaccine. But that’s not us wanting to hide that information. That’s us wanting to get the information out. But we are restricted because of our small numbers on what we can and cannot say. But I’m delighted that we’ve been able to have that information to show the public the importance of having the vaccine. So it gets quite

Paul Moulton 28:15
right, you have wanted to lose information all the time that you’ve been stopped by your medical advisors. Well, we’ve

Howard Quayle 28:21
been we’ve been stopped because data protection rules mean that we have to comply with rules and regulations. Now, just because it suits us to be able to, you know, we can’t break the rules just because we because it suits us, we have to ensure that we have followed all the correct rules and regulations. And we have been advised that the people have been asked and have agreed to share whether they’ve been vaccinated or not. That’s why we’re able to share that information with yourselves. And I’m delighted that we can do that. David,

David Ashford 28:52
I also want to give an important just say, to make absolutely clear, there’s not some secret Bank of information somewhere. So there’s not a load of information myself or the chief minister has, that we can’t we aren’t sharing with the Manx public, the rules equally apply to us. I’m not entitled to that information. Same as the chief minister, apart from where the appropriate permissions are in place. And those permissions in this instance, have been able to be obtained, there will be cases going forward where we will be if you look back over the pandemic periods. And all of the numerous press conferences we’ve done. There’s been certain occasions where for instance, I’ve been able to release postcode data. But when we had the low number of cases, we weren’t able to do that, because it was classed as identifying data. And this is exactly the same.

Paul Moulton 29:36
But you’re relying Are you saying this thing you’re relying on patients to tell you that they they will allow you to tell the public so when you get other people and other days you don’t want information out you’ll give out a number but it won’t be the right number necessarily shortly because some people are going to hold back that information

David Ashford 29:53
where information isn’t willing to be shared. We can’t share that poll. So you have a right to prizes sorry. The real I’m

Paul Moulton 30:00
sorry. So they’re not gonna give us won’t necessarily be the number. It’ll be just the people who have agreed for that information to be shared. Yes,

David Ashford 30:07
well, if people aren’t willing to share their personal information, we have no power to compel them to do so people have a right to privacy. And if they don’t wish to share their personal data, then they do not have to share it. And that’s the law.

Paul Moulton 30:20
So that number won’t necessarily be correct. That’s I’m trying to get to

David Ashford 30:24

Howard Quayle 30:25
this number is correct, because everyone has shared the information, what we’re saying is in the future and past, if we haven’t got the permission, we cannot state that because as I say, when you’re down to small numbers, like if there was one person in intensive care, and they weren’t vaccinated, then it could be tied back to that one person, where we’re dealing with very small numbers on a very small island. And as I say, in the UK, considerably more numbers. So you can’t be traced back you, you have your anonymity and sheer volume of numbers. So it’s not a case that we don’t want to we have to follow rules.

David Ashford 31:02
And in fact, it’s frustrating, Paul, because a lot of the data if we could share, it would probably give very good very good information around vaccination, like we’ve been able to do today. But we do have to recognise that there will be occasions like today, where we’ve got the data, and we can share it because we have a full data set. But equally, there will be other occasions where we don’t have a full data set and won’t be able to share, because as you’ve just rightly said yourself, if we haven’t got a full data set, then it doesn’t necessarily give us the information that we want.

Paul Moulton 31:29
Okay, thank you. My second question, talk to you, while you’re not giving the information or up to now in your side? And are you still frustrated that colmenar not necessarily taking your advice?

Henrietta Ewart 31:41
I’m sorry, but I don’t understand the questions. Data is released when we’ve got data that’s an appropriate quality and with the right permissions to do so. And I don’t know where you’ve got the idea that I think that co men aren’t taking my advice, because that’s not the case.

Paul Moulton 31:57
Well, you said last time in a very roundabout way that they weren’t taking your advice, weren’t you? So I mean, are they are they? No, I

Henrietta Ewart 32:04
didn’t, I said that the decisions sit with comin, they take my evidence into account as they do all other evidence. It’s not for me to give opinion as though I expect that opinion to be followed. So from my perspective, so long as I’m comfortable, that evidence has been taken into account, and balanced with all the many things that government doesn’t have to take into account, then I will support that decision. And I certainly wouldn’t go around saying that I didn’t. And that first part was just about what they’d said that they were being withheld from the information by medical team now that turned last year or whatever. But have you therefore changed your mind that this information also shouldn’t be in the public domain? Or what’s going on day, sir, on the status of hospital patients is not public health data that is owned by maintenance care. So I wouldn’t have discretion to release or not release that because I don’t have it. It’s Manx care data, which they actually legally couldn’t transfer to the public health Directorate, unless it complied with data sharing agreements, and GDPR. So that that’s not that’s not a block that I could put in even if I wanted to put in or that I could release if I wanted to do that.

Paul Moulton 33:17
Okay, is a question from banks care, but maybe we’ll get some finance care to come on sometime. Yes.

Howard Quayle 33:22
Okay. Thanks very much, Paul. Now we move on to Dave Mar from Manx radio, good afternoon day faster. My

Unknown Speaker 33:29
Esther my it could be argued for people may still be alive had locked down being enforced just a little longer. As an island. We seem to cope internally over the past 18 months, could we not have kept that going for just a few more weeks until more vaccinations were in place? Or were we at breaking point in terms of keeping border restrictions in place, and that now wealth is more important than health? Well, I

Howard Quayle 33:53
certainly don’t think wealth is more important than Health Day. And also it’s a sad, but true fact that actually the cases had come on to the island before we went on to the two plus two border changes. Sadly, a couple of people came back to the island and had a negative test, which was then shown to be positive six days later. And that was the source of the outbreak. We have always said we’ve got to learn to live with this outbreak. Now obviously there are some people who sadly may have died. with with with COVID as a result of another underlying issue. We on the island have to learn to live with it. We’ve put we’ve we keep restrictions in place. So we’re still asking doing border checks for people who aren’t vaccinated. We’re still doing tests for people presenting themselves. What we’ve got to learn to move forward and all deaths are regrettable. And as I say I said at the start of my sincere thoughts are with the families of those affected, but we as a society have got to move forward and learn to live with this terrible illness and the vaccine is a significant way forward to help. I don’t know, David, if you want to expand,

David Ashford 35:07
yeah, if I may, Chief Minister, I mean, it’s a sad occasion for our close knit community, which is why Ireland is when any member of our community loses their live bat from COVID, or be it from any other disease. And the issue is, we’ve got to be realistic with COVID, that of whatever point, we release, even if we’d waited a couple of weeks, even if we waited a couple of months, even if we waited to the end of the year, at some point COVID is going to come back into our community. And we have to be honest with the fact that there will be serious illness. And there will be death as a result of that. As the chief minister is laid out, the current outbreak actually started the week before the changes to the board restrictions from from a couple of people who tested negative on survival, and then tested positive on day six. So yeah, it is very sad when anyone loses their lives or anyone is seriously ill. But we do have to recognise that COVID isn’t going anywhere. And no matter when we did this, this was always going to be the most difficult stage, because we have got to try and learn to coexist with this virus. And that’s not an easy thing to do, particularly after we’ve spent a year trying to mitigate, trying to control. And we have to remember that the reason we were doing that was to allow the vaccine rollout To begin, and also to protect those most vulnerable. And at the point we opened the board, the vaccination programme had done that for the most vulnerable categories. So though it’s still rolling on in the other age groups, those age groups are actually at the lower end of the vulnerability scale. But like I said, there is never going to be a perfect time. And we do have to be honest that at whatever time we had opened up, there was going to be a form of serious illness. And sadly, tragically, as with a lot of diseases, there will be deaths.

Howard Quayle 36:51
I think it’s also important to take into account that Coleman’s dealing with increases in suicide, mental health, alcoholism, family splitting up housing shortages, because the families are getting divorced. And there’s not enough housing for the these people in a situation that people’s mental health or their businesses may be going on the businesses on the on the break of going down. So when is the right time to open? When are when do you take into account the number of operations cancelled because we’ve for hips for cancer treatments, etc. Because we’ve had to keep a ward open potentially for because of our COVID rules and regulations. It’s a it’s a dreadful situation to have to make these decisions. We have a significant number of people vaccinated now, and I’m glad to say that the vaccine does seem to be working it is giving people who are fully vaccinated the protection that we would hope them that they would have, but a really tough decision has had to had to be made. Your next question, Dave,

Unknown Speaker 37:55
thank you. Um, you said earlier cheap, Mr. A couple of times about the case numbers coming down? How confident are you that everyone who’s testing positive on lateral flow is then going for a PCR test? And why would and should people go for PCR if they think they’re already positive?

Howard Quayle 38:14
Well, if you think you’re positive that there can be there is a small percentage of false negatives on a lateral flow and a PCR will give you the full results are far more detailed and correct result. Now what you need to know for yourself, you need to know for your family to ensure that you don’t spread it to your family, if you’ve definitely got it to protect your colleagues at work, the PCR test is very useful. From a selfish point of view, you won’t get any payment if you’re not entitled to any benefit. If you’ve got to not go to work, if you haven’t had a PCR test to prove that you’re COVID positive. Those are a few reasons why you should while we think people are doing it, and also I would say that I think we’re probably capturing far more people as a result of the lateral flow test now than we would do say in the outbreak in March because an awful lot of people who are having the lateral flow, we’re not showing any symptoms, but the lateral flow has has picked it up. I don’t know, David, if you want to give any further examples.

David Ashford 39:15
Yes, Chief Minister, if I may, I mean, in terms of the lateral flow, just to answer the first part of your question there, Dave. In relation to the lateral flow, we are reliant on people coming forward if they have a positive result, exactly the same as where they’re lined if someone shows symptoms on them actually coming forward, identifying themselves to go for the test, there is a small risk with lateral flow of a false positive. PCR testing actually will pick up and record accordingly. But it is the responsible thing for people to do if they test positive to come forward, be tested and be isolated for the 10 days to stop and reduce that onward transmission in the community. I mean, the government figures have shown the 2342 people have contacted 111 After testing positive at the at home, swabbing kits, and then 2171 of those have since tested positive after having a PCR test. So it does go to show that it is the responsible thing to do when it’s the right thing to do. I would urge anyone be they showing symptoms, or have they taken a lateral flow test with a positive result to come forward, because they are protecting the community by doing so.

Unknown Speaker 40:25
But you could understand if someone has a positive lateral flow, and they’re trying to get in touch with a very busy COVID hotline that they’ll think there’s no point in going for the PCR, I’ve got COVID are ringing sick at work, I’ll be looked after pay wise, etc, etc, you could understand that, could you?

David Ashford 40:43
Well, in terms of in terms of the PCR test, of course, the isolation actually works off the when it’s when the PCR test is booked. So it’s not from when the PCR test takes place. So people should take that into account as well. But I would urge people to still come forward and have it confirmed by the PCR. And that way we can get it into our fingers. And we can see the true extent of any outbreak on the island. But I’ll bring the Director of Public Health and

Howard Quayle 41:13
can be on mute, the Director of Public Health please. Thank you.

Henrietta Ewart 41:18
Yes, just to pick up on that. Firstly, out of all the people who have contacted the Testing Service to get a PCR 92% have been confirmed positive, which is a very good result. But that does mean that 8% have actually been allowed to both read from further isolation, which takes the burden off them. The other point I just wanted to pick up on which point you made about people getting frustrated at trying to get through the distance telephone line. In fact, they don’t have to do that they can book directly online so they don’t have to queue. So that makes it a much a much more streamlined process for people. Obviously, we only know the people who come forward to register a positive Lfd. We don’t know those that don’t. And of those that don’t, we don’t know how many of them had a positive Lfd and either ignored it or just decided to take action off the back of it. As you were saying they could decide themselves not to proceed to PCL, but stay at home work from home, whatever. To an extent, we don’t mind about that, because any reduction is a good reduction. And remember now that we’re into mitigation, not trying to drive everything down so that we have no cases on Island. So all of that is good. And running it on the basis of trust is fine, we’re still seeing very good results from it, as indicated, you know, the two and a half 1000 people that have come forward for PCL after a positive lrfd. So we’re pleased with the way it’s working. Thank you.

Howard Quayle 42:55
Thank you for that talk to Tom. Thank you very much, Dave. Now we move on to Paul Hartman from Alamo newspapers. Good afternoon, Paul, faster. My

Unknown Speaker 43:03
Good afternoon. We call this current phase on mitigation strategy, what concrete mitigations do actually have in place to check the spread of covid. Outside of the loose personal responsibility guidance like for mask wearing?

Howard Quayle 43:16
Well, obviously we have our borders policies. So we only let people in who aren’t tested who have been fully vaccinated and then had two weeks before they can travel. That’s shows clear evidence in reducing the number potential number of infected people we do, obviously, the testing of that of anyone who comes forward with cases to see whether or not there are, whether they are they have the infectious disease, we’ve issued I think 100 plus 1000 lateral flow tests to help people do the test for themselves. if they have any doubt going forward. And I’m sure the health minister will be able to give you more details of what his department has done

David Ashford 43:56
yet. So the chief minister has hit several of the major ones in relation to borders, we not only have continued testing for unvaccinated individuals test to release coming in, we also still have restrictions around who can enter the island in relation to unvaccinated people. It’s not fully open border, we still have to have a contractual reason we’ll be a close family member in that regard. Also, for people who’ve been travelling further afield, we’re now moving the UK traffic light system. So do pay if people are coming from a red country, they still have to do the 10 day isolation in the UK first, regardless of vaccination status. So there’s measures actually in place there around the border. In relation to one island, we still have a full testing pathway in place for those who may show symptoms and also out in the community with testing with the lfts. It’s 200,000 basically lfts that we’ve gone through, and that shows a great deal of testing going on in the islands and people being responsible and taking the right decisions. We also have the advice that we’ve updated around mass squaring, we don’t mandate mass squaring we never have done We actually state is again that people if they’re in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation, they should wear masks. So there is advice out there. And that all forms part of a mitigation strategy.

Unknown Speaker 45:13
And secondly, Chief Minister before the board is open in June, you said you were nervous about it. How do you feel now that we’ve seen the outcomes of that decision?

Howard Quayle 45:22
Well, I think the numbers have loosely followed what our medics expected, we knew we would see COVID back on the island, we’ve got to learn to live with it. I’ve you know, making these changes was never easy. Opening up was always going to hit the hardest part. But equally the Council of minister gets information, as I said earlier, and a previous question from one of your colleagues regarding mental health, suicides, alcoholism, family splitting up homelessness, all these things have to be factored in. by the Council of Ministers in the UK, I think at the previous briefing, the Health Minister mentioned that we were seeing more deaths in the UK as a result of restrictions being in place from COVID, the natural COVID deaths themselves with operations being cancelled cancer treatment, being not not being up to date, that the list goes on of all the problems that the Council of Ministers has to make. So opening up, I was always going to be nervous because we’ve kept a tight run ship with a number of cases. But once we had a certain percentage of our public vaccinated, especially our vulnerable, which is mid 90s, then we felt confident that we’ve protected our most vulnerable now, it’s incredibly sad that a number of people have contracted COVID. Sadly, we’ve lost people to this disease. But what’s equally worrying is that we have 8000 people who have chosen not to get vaccinated that can be vaccinated that can give themselves that protection from the risk of serious illness or death. So, yes, I’ve been nervous since day one of this outbreak. And I think until I hand over to the next Chief Minister, I’ll stay being worried and nervous and constantly questioning myself, am I doing the best for the people of the island, but you can only do your best based on the evidence that’s provided to you. And then you make what you hope are the right decisions. Thank you very much, Paula. And thank you all very much for those questions. That’s all for today. Have a pleasant weekend. Thank you for joining us.

Unknown Speaker 47:23
Bye bye

Michael Josem is a long-term consumer advocate, most prominently as a global leader in combating fraud in the online gambling industry. He was in part the inspiration for the 20th Century Fox Movie, Runner Runner, starring Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake.

Josem has over a decade of experience as a senior business leader working across various high-tech and online industries, and takes action to build a better community. His primary volunteer roles include service for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and Graih, the homelessness charity.