This is a very rough and unverified transcript of the Isle of Man Government’s Coronavirus Media Briefing held on Tuesday 23 February 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”).
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David Ashford 0:00
Good afternoon, everyone. The Chief Minister is attending to other duties this afternoon, but I am joined by the Director of Public Health Dr. Henrietta Ewart at the other podium. I’ll begin with going over the latest COVID figures. To date we’ve undertaken 31,799 tests with 31,792 concluded, there are seven people awaiting results. The total number of active cases is 27. And our total number of cases to date is 462. In the past 24 hours, six people have tested positive for COVID-19. Taking the total number of active cases I’ve said 27. And I’ll now hand over to the Director of Public Health to say a little more on these new cases, and how they link to existing clusters.
Henrietta Ewart 0:46
Thank you, Minister. 25 of the 27 cases are linked to the one cluster we currently have on Island. The other two cases are returning travellers who’ve been picked up through the usual self isolation and testing arrangements. The cases that were identified yesterday, the six cases the ministers mentioned, were either close household contacts have a known case associated with the cluster, or were close non household contacts.
David Ashford 1:18
Thank you Doctor Ewart for that detailed update. Our test and trace trace approach means that every case in this outbreak has a clear and identifiable chain of transmission, meaning our outbreak consists of a single cluster. This is comparable to the cluster people will remember in December. Last week, we issued a list of locations where there was a low risk that people who were at these venues at specific times could contract COVID-19 Java express a coffee shop or noodle bar was one of these venues. As you’ll be aware, at the weekend, someone who had been at Java on that date and time we announced contacted 111 with COVID symptoms, they were immediately instructed to self isolate along with other members of their household and offered a test. That test came back positive late on Sunday. This meant that we needed to reassess this locations level of risk. A decision was taken as a precaution to ask anyone who had been a Java at this time to self isolate and contact warm, warm warm, for advice and to arrange a test. This surveillance testing allows us to quickly determine if there is a broader issue within a premises that needs to be acted upon. as is so often the case in Ireland, word travelled quickly. And when the 111 line opened at 8am. On Monday, we saw a surge in calls. In total 136 people who are at Java at the time and date of interest have contacted 111 or have been offered tests 124 of those tests have come back negative with a handful of results awaited. This shows encouraging signs that widespread widespread looks like it is being contained. I would like to commend the individual who came forward at the weekend for their vigilance. This is precisely why we publicise low risk locations. I would also commend those customers and staff from Java, who have contacted the 111 service since yesterday morning. As you have heard in so many of these briefings, our response to the threat posed by COVID-19 is about balancing risk. Low Risk should not be mistaken for no risk. Our approach is about balancing the level of risk to the public and their health against other considerations, such as the economic and social impact of how we respond to people who were in a low risk location. It is not always easy. It is a case of shades of grey as opposed to black and white. At the moment, our approach of focusing on testing, tracing and isolating has proven effective 25 cases have been identified uncontained with is yet no one explained community cases. We can take comfort in this, but we cannot let down our guard. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and adjust our response if necessary. Turning now to our vaccination programme. We have now administered more than 18,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine. This is broken down to more than 13,001st doses and more than 5,002nd doses. We have now given a first dose to almost one third of our most vulnerable people. As I said last week, we have been reviewing the emerging evidence around COVID-19 vaccinations. The latest evidence arising from the deployment of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine in the UK has confirmed that the interval between the two doses May be extended beyond the original specification of 28 days. The vaccine has an average 76% effectiveness against symptomatic Coronavirus infection for three months after the first dose. It has also been shown that extending the time period for the second dose does not affect the affinity of the first, which was an initial concern not that long ago. After extensive review of the evidence by senior clinicians in the department of health and social care, the strategy to extend the gap between the two doses of the Oxford vaccine is now being adopted here in the Isle of Man. The decision means more people will be vaccinated with one dose at an earlier stage than originally planned. Our team is now working hard to redraw our vaccination schedule. The new dose intervals for Oxford AstraZeneca will come into effect for all who have registered with 111 following that invitation letter, and those who will be invited in the future. The change won’t affect people who already have an appointment from 111 for their second dose of the Oxford vaccine, which will go ahead as planned modelling of the rollout in line with expected delivery schedules of the vaccine and the updated second dose timeframes will vary delivery of the first and second doses by a few weeks, but will not change the overall programme. Delivery of vaccines to the island remains the biggest variable in our mass vaccination programme. The dose interval for the face of vaccine currently remains at 21 days, but this is subject to ongoing review, in line with emerging evidence around that vaccine.
David Ashford 6:47
Another component of our vaccination programme, which was announced last week, is the decision to make vaccines available to those who crow the Ireland’s vital MC transport to transport providers. This will protect crew members from serious illness should they pick up the virus helping to safeguard our critical transport links. We have always said that our borders are our key defence against the virus. And this new chapter in our vaccination programme will also reduce although it’s important to emphasise not eliminate the risk of the virus being inadvertently imported to the island. We are arranging vaccination sessions for crew members of the Parliament steam packing company this week. With the first session tomorrow. crew members will wear PPA while attending for their job as well the vaccinators the hub will be deep cleaned both after the session in the morning before the hub opens. Open serve and sorry the whole board we did cleaned both after the session and in the morning before the hub opens the following day, and premises checked by the infection prevention and control team. vaccinations will also be offered to crew with the Ramsay Bay sea carrier Meza Ron, as well as Ireland base crew at flight operator loganair and IaaS medical, which provides the Ireland’s air ambulance service. These groups will be booked in for vaccinations over the next few weeks. My thanks to our vaccination team and our transport providers for making this possible and working together to protect these essential workers and reduce the risk to our community. Finally, before turning to questions from the media, I would like to talk about ongoing work on a framework for the Isle of Man to exit from COVID-19 restrictions at the board. Work on this has been ongoing for some time. And we are now in the final stages of preparations. We are taking on board input from members of Tim Ward ahead of releasing the first draft later this month. This is the beginning of an important stage in our journey through this pandemic. And the Council of Ministers looks forward to sharing the plan in June course, this main work can only be a guide, given that there remains so many unknowns. But the path to take us to normality is clearer now than it has been since the pandemic started. And time will give more certainty on what measures can be loosened and when whilst continuing to keep our community safe. And we will now turn to questions from the media. And first off I’ve got alleman newspapers and Helen McKenna. Good afternoon. Hello,
Helen McKenna 9:31
afternoon. My first question is about whether the government can go ahead and mix batches of vaccine
David Ashford 9:39
at the moment, Helen, I’ll bring the Director of Public Health in in a moment, but at the moment, No. The recommendation is still have that you received the second dose of the same vaccine as you received the first. I know there’s clinical trials ongoing in the UK and also in Europe in this regard. But none of those have yet reported and the recommendation is still if you received Oxford AstraZeneca is your first dose, you should get that as your second. And equally if you had the five size your first dose, you should receive the five Swiss your second. I don’t know, Doctor, you
Henrietta Ewart 10:10
know, you’ve covered that very clearly minister, nothing to add to that.
Helen McKenna 10:15
Thank you. My second question is about CoMin, just Council of Ministers, sorry, about the discussion about whether a lockdown sort of watered down lockdown would be implemented, has government considered alternatives to a full lockdown? And what would that entail?
David Ashford 10:32
Yeah, so government has considered alternatives. In fact, if you go to our stay safe documents, which is I’ve been on the website for a long time. Now, we actually have different measures in there that we could take. So rather than just doing a full lockdown, we could be introduced social distancing, and masks. And there’s everything in the mix. We don’t have to always go for a set circuit breaker, there’s discussions around that. It literally depends upon the circumstances that were faced with Helen, to be perfectly frank, we have to adapt to those when we did the circuit breaker was because we were seeing random cases, which were random at the time popping up in the community. So we needed to take swift action. If there’s anything that we need to do that is less than that, such as just to bring it back social distancing, then that can be a consideration. Thank you. Okay, next up, I’ve got Josh Stokes from ITV.
Josh Stokes 11:25
Good afternoon minister. This was a question for the chief minister, but I will still ask it because it is important. This morning in the house of keys, the steam packet company investigation was brought up and the chief minister said clearly there has been a breakdown in rules and regulations in answer to your question, which does suggest investigation may have already concluded the rules have been broken. So firstly, can you just confirm whether there’s now proof that rules have indeed been broken? And what update Can you give on these ongoing meetings?
David Ashford 11:50
Well, I think first of all, if you actually listen to what the chief minister said, in totality, what the chief minister was actually referring to, is the fact that he there’s a feeling there must have been a fault somewhere in the protocols, because otherwise the virus wouldn’t potentially have got out in the way that it did. investigations are still ongoing. We’re not going to jump to any conclusions in relation to that. We’re going to let the investigations run their course. And nobody is going to rush to judgement ahead of that time. In terms of the ongoing conversations with the steam packets. We are having ongoing conversations public health, and also the TNS team, which has travelled beautification team in charge of the borders, are speaking with them, because we need to get a satisfactory solution to this. I’ve said on numerous public occasions, you know, we can’t isolate people permanently, you can’t have people living in permanent self isolation. So we need to come up with something that works for the steam packet and ensures the staff safety, but equally ensures the safety of this island, because that’s what we’ve got to remember, it’s the wider community as well. And I don’t have Dr. You it’s got anything she can update in terms of the meetings or steam packet. No. Thank you.
Josh Stokes 13:01
off the back of that, then do we have any idea of an expectation of when the full publication of these findings may be made? Or is there any joint statement coming tomorrow or the next day or anything along those lines?
David Ashford 13:11
We will take our time with this and we will make sure we get it right. The Chief Minister made clear in keys today that once we’re ready to announce something, then we will. But this is something we’re not going to rush. It’s a major part of our public health response to the pandemic. Dr. Hewitt herself has said on many occasions where only as safe as the last person over the border, so it is absolutely essential to our response, it’s more important to get it right than to do it washed.
Josh Stokes 13:38
My second question regarding vaccinations at the steam packet crew is about the wish to have all crews vaccinated by the end of the week. And you have a rough idea of how many vaccinations that will be and will it include crews from the UK as well as maintenance crews here.
David Ashford 13:51
So initially, the vaccinations will be will be 70. In terms that will be done. In terms of UK crews, what we’ve got to be very careful of is by expanding it out that we don’t do something that would be detrimental to that crew. We need to have a certain amount of medical history if it’s appropriate for them to be vaccinated. And that will all feed into the process, Josh?
Josh Stokes 14:14
Okay, just to be clear is that is it planned to be done by the end of the week as well.
David Ashford 14:17
So we will move as swiftly as we can. There may be and maybe move some moving into next week, but we will move as swiftly as we can.
Unknown Speaker 14:24
David Ashford 14:25
Okay, next up, I’ve got Leanne cook from three FM. Good afternoon.
Helen McKenna 14:30
My first question and I’m just wondering if contact tracing is still ongoing from previous cases. Therefore, if we can expect more low risk or high risk locations to be identified in the upcoming days,
David Ashford 14:42
Open Directory public health and will be much more attuned to the issue.
Henrietta Ewart 14:46
There will be whether anything emerges from the current batch of cases but as they were all in self isolation anyway, they shouldn’t be.
Helen McKenna 14:54
Okay, And my second question is for yourself and wondering for an update with genomic results, just Wondering if any have been received. And if there’s any indication of is that the new variant of the virus?
Henrietta Ewart 15:05
We’ll be expecting to see those coming through this week. And we certainly will not be surprised if they are the Kent variant because that’s another dominant strain across.
Unknown Speaker 15:14
Okay, thank you.
David Ashford 15:17
Okay, next, I’ve got Manx radio and Tim Glover afternoon turn
Tim Glover 15:21
faster, my minister and Director of Public Health, fifth of February ran a story about the initial concerns with the steam packets, and the mixing between banks and UK crews. And we’ve been drawn attention to the clip from Dr. Henry after you attend, they can transcribed it, we can work with them on these, this has to do with the protocols and assessments to try and reach the point that works for everybody, both in terms of the Isle of Man staffing might potentially otherwise have to be impermanent, self isolation when they are off duty, but also in terms of maintaining COVID security for the whole island. Last week, obviously, we were told the direction notice was very clear. So can you see why the public are very confused about this whole issue. And in fact, steamed packets staff are pretty angry about this.
David Ashford 16:10
What the first thing I’d say Tim is from the quote you just gave our let the director public health speak for itself in a moment. And the quote you gave there, it’s quite clear, but the Director of Public Health acknowledged the fact that if we didn’t work with the steam packet crews could be in permanent self isolation. That’s certainly what
Tim Glover 16:27
the inference therefore was that they weren’t and it was no,
Henrietta Ewart 16:31
no, the inference from what I said was not that they weren’t the use of the word potentially refers to the fact that it depends on shift patterns. If somebody is off shift for 21 days, or even more than 14, and has had negative tests, then they’d be out of self isolation anyway. So a bit analogous to the issue we had with some of the patient transfer patients, depending on the cycles of travel, you could be in permanent self isolation, but others might not be.
Tim Glover 17:01
But just for clarification, we’re told as well, and we’ve mentioned this before, it’s one week on one week off the ship patterns. So they would be in isolation.
Henrietta Ewart 17:11
There are many things we are learning about protocols and procedures on the steam packet, which perhaps we’re not entirely clear before.
David Ashford 17:19
Yeah, I think the important thing, Tim, is the matter is being investigated. And I think it’s important we let that investigation on its course, we can all stand here and speculate on what that investigation may find. But I don’t think that’s very helpful. I think let’s see what the investigation comes out with. And the chief minister has already said once we have the results of that investigation, then there will be shared.
Tim Glover 17:39
Second question is, as you mentioned, in your speech, Winchester 25 cases so far from this index case, including cost the index case, and that is in six days, one question we’re being asked quite frequently is, How big does this cluster all linked to the index case have to get before you take further action? I know, from looking at the plan here, but you do the seven day rolling average. So maybe if that could just be explained fully to the public? Because we’re getting asked that a lot.
David Ashford 18:10
Yeah, again, I’ll bring the Director of Public Health in, but my understanding is it’s not to do with the size of the cluster, it’s to do with the circumstances. So the rolling average is actually community cases, Tim, what would be referred to as community cases, so sporadic cases that we can’t control, which is in the stay safe document, which is the page, I think you just you just sort of waved off to me there. Yeah, in relation in relation to. So in relation to a cluster, it’s not about the size, it’s about the where those people are. So we will get cases of people in self isolation, because contact tracing has done its job, they have found high risk contacts, they have told them to self isolate. And a few days later, those people test positive, that isn’t as much of a concern for us because they are already in self isolation off the back of the previous case. So what we are concerned about is if we start seeing cases where we don’t have an identifiable link, or that then links to multiple other venues, where large amounts of people are then testing positive, and it’s not in a controlled way. So it’s all about the controls in place, and whether those people have the risk of onward spread, but I’ll pass over to Director of Public Health. Yes, I
Henrietta Ewart 19:21
mean, just to really summarise because that’s a very full answer we’ve just had there. It’s about control. And it’s about lines of transmission. And every case in the current cluster of 25 has a clear relation to other cases, and they all track back to the initial index case. So there is no concern at the moment about unexpected cases or unexplained cases coming up in the community that would make us reconsider the the approach. Thank you.
David Ashford 19:52
Next up, I’ve got Alex Bell from BBC Ireland, man. Good afternoon, Alex.
Alex Bell 19:57
Good afternoon. Yes. Today, Boris Johnson announced a plan as we all know, towards almost total normality by June, with the acknowledgement that eliminating COVID will not be possible in the UK but rather a strategy of suppression to minimal levels where the country can effectively live with the virus. coupled with the fact that we found ourselves with a cluster of 25 cases, not in the community, albeit no restrictions currently being implemented. Our ministers starting to consider that within time, the island will have to end its own COVID elimination strategy.
David Ashford 20:37
Well, the Chief Minister has said many times at this podium and so you can’t stay in permanent, glorious isolation forever. As an island, we’ve got to be a functioning part of the world community. And so we can’t have the borders closed forevermore. What’s important, though, is as we’ve laid out before, and what will drive those decisions is firstly, declining transmission rates in the UK of spreads, and also our own vaccination programme, what protection we have in place for the people of the Isle of Man. And as we move through that, as I just said, at the end of my speech, we will have an exit strategy which we will be a public facing documents, so people can see how we will go through those various stages to return to normality. I think one of the things that’s very important to caveat about what was announced with the UK yesterday, is other than the very initial stage, which is the eighth of March, which schools and colleges go and back, and the measures there in relation to all the other dates, so stage to the 12th of April, stage three, the 17th of May, and stage four, the 21st of June, they are no earlier than dates. So the UK is not set in stone, saying those are the dates this is going to happen. The Prime Minister made it quite clear yesterday, that actually those dates could change if there is other variants that appear or if there is other risks that appear. So it’s not a guaranteed that come the end of June, the UK will be back to normal. They hope to be they will show in the plan how they can be. But it is important to emphasise those dates that they laid out or possible dates, they are the earliest dates, they are not set in stone, I don’t have to director for public health ones to add anything,
Henrietta Ewart 22:15
I’m only just to say that there are multiple various variables that we will have to watch over time. And that’s going to be a long time, it’s not going to be sorted by June, or by the autumn, there will be ongoing issues in terms of new variants and potential need for changes to vaccines that we will have to be keeping track of and adjusting policy accordingly as we go forward. But COVID is going to be with us for the long haul, not a short end in sight, I think.
David Ashford 22:44
And as we’ve said before, Alex, once we’ve hit those sort of milestones, those review milestones, that’s when we can actually look at what we do with different measures. It’s never going to be a case of moving from restrictions to complete release and normality. There’s always going to be interim stages. And as I say, we’ve been working with Tim Ward members on the exit strategy. And hopefully when we can publish that in the not too distant future, the public will be able to see our thinking around that.
Alex Bell 23:11
So am I right in reading there, the island should expect to have some sort of COVID restriction in place until at least the autumn?
David Ashford 23:19
Well, what I’ve got to say is it will depend it will depend what happens if we see a massive drop off, as again, we’ve said at this podium before in the UK transmission rate, and something goes a lot faster than we expect, then the measures can be reviewed. But equally we have to do this in stages. There will be different measures released at different times. And that’s an ongoing process.
Alex Bell 23:41
Thank you. And just a question which I’ve been meaning to ask. For those who have returned the island since the new testing policy came in and received all three tests as offered. Do we know how many, if any, have received a negative day one test to then receive a positive on day seven or 13?
David Ashford 24:01
I don’t have that information. I don’t know if the director of public
Henrietta Ewart 24:03
yes, we do have that information. And I haven’t got an opportunity to look it up right now. But we can certainly share it.
Alex Bell 24:13
Thank you. That would be brilliant. Thanks.
David Ashford 24:14
Okay, next up. I’ve got some terms from Jeff. Good afternoon, sir.
Sam Turton 24:19
Good afternoon. I just want to start with the vaccination roll out. You’re obviously moving to 10 weeks. At the minute we’ve got well as of the 21st of February, this is updated, there was 11,900 jobs in stock of which just over 10,000 were allocated for second dose, given what you’ve said about time timeframes for delivery, how many of them will be moved over to first dosage and how quickly can we see a ramp up the number of people that are getting first jobs
David Ashford 24:47
what we have to remember is this only at the moment applies to the Oxford AstraZeneca it doesn’t apply to five sir. And equally we have said that those who are already booked with a second dose we will honour that second dose when it is booked. So it’s not going to have a massive impact on the stock levels that are there now, but they’re moving forward, the difference it makes in the vaccination programme is actually negligible over the period of vaccination programme, it makes about two weeks difference. So it’s not it doesn’t create a sudden mass speeding up of the vaccination based on the delivery schedules, it adds about it adds about two weeks, it saves about two weeks in terms of first dose.
Sam Turton 25:26
And just secondly, in terms of their phone, Alex’s question about in the UK, obviously, they’re aiming for the end of June, but that could slip. But then we also have a general election coming up in September here is the scope and feeling of pressure to open the borders and still have the positive pressure you’ve had in the last few weeks actually translate into business for the island and grow the island. Who else who may risk missing the boat?
David Ashford 25:50
Well, actually, actually some the the, the actual, the actual decisions are made around the social, the health and economic aspects of the Ireland, election considerations don’t come into it. We hope that we will be able to move through an exit strategy. But things change all the time. There is certainly no you know, the no election considerations in that in relation to that. It is purely down to what is in the best health position of the island, because we have to go back to remember what these measures are, therefore, they are to protect the populace, the islands and protect our health service from being overwhelmed with sick people. That was why these measures were brought in. And that is still the primary aim.
Sam Turton 26:27
But just in terms of if the UK does open up at the end of June or even early July, if they plan to, is not going to tie our hands and say we are essentially going to have to do that. Because realistically if we don’t we are going to miss an opportunity.
David Ashford 26:39
Well, no, it depends what you class as an opportunity. If there is still a risk to the island that we are going to end up with a lot of seriously ill individuals should COVID be important to the Ireland, and we are going to have our hospital overrun. And as a result, then we will not be moving because obviously that is the basis of the pandemic programme. But if however, as I said, when the exit strategy is drawn up, we will have clear defined timelines as to how we believe we will be able to move depending upon the situation. But there is a lot of variables in there. But the key thing to drive is there’s always been the three considerations, which is health, economic and social. That has always been our key three drivers. And that remains that there isn’t a fourth one around election.
Sam Turton 27:21
Thank you, Minister.
David Ashford 27:23
Okay, next, I’ve got some in Richardson from business 365. Good afternoon.
Simon Richardson 27:28
Good afternoon minister. How would you describe the relationship between government and the steam packet company at present? Clearly, there’s been a lot of friction. Is there now a coordinated response to what’s obviously been a serious problem?
David Ashford 27:43
I think there is, you know, I think the relationship between the steam packet and government has been a very good working relationship, the government Treasury ultimately, as the shareholder of the steam packet company, we do have lines of communication that we use to discuss with the company. Obviously, this may have strained this a bit. But we are working together to try and find a solution. And I think that is the best way forward. We need something that allows the steam Packer to to operate in a proper, proper way. And we need a solution that also at the same time protects the wider community, the arland. And that is what the public health team, the travel notification service team and the steam packet themselves are working exceptionally hard to do. I want to emphasise again that I feel you know, the steam packet has done an excellent job over the 12 months, they’ve been under a lot of pressure in terms of the pandemic, they’ve continued to bring goods into the island and be an essential lifeline for this island. And, you know, I think that overall, they’ve done a very good job. But we just need to find out what’s gone wrong in this particular instance, that is being investigated, and then look into the future, which for me is the most important part is actually looking at how we resolve the current issues so that we have a satisfactory solution that satisfactory for the steam packets, but also protects the long term health of our wider Ireland population.
Simon Richardson 29:03
Thank you. And secondly, the current cluster emphasises the need, obviously to press on with the vaccination programme. Now with that in mind, can you confirm if some doctors surgeries on the island have declined to take part because their insurance indemnity isn’t sufficient? And if so, how many surgeries have said they wouldn’t be part of the programme?
David Ashford 29:23
Well, no, in terms of the GPS, I know there has been an issue around indemnity for GPS, because it’s slightly different to the way that it’s working in the UK, but we are looking to deliver from hubs that is the whole basis of this, because that is where we get the mass throughput. So the idea while I said initially we would engage with primary care to see if things we could deliver and the emphasis has always been on having the two main hubs which is the airport was Newlands is now Chester street in order that we can get the volume of people through our mass. I think I’ve said before, there’s a huge administration process sits behind this vaccination as well, because it’s under emergency regulation. And if we have to start duplicating processes all over the place, then basically we will not actually speed up the vaccination programme will actually slow it down. In when we see pictures in the UK of church halls etc being used, we have to remember that in terms of the population context, and the fact that in the UK, some of those church halls are serving populations that are over 50% of the island.
Simon Richardson 30:28
And it’s moving quickly. And as of the moment
David Ashford 30:29
I am we are moving in line with the vaccination supplies we are receiving the vaccination supply we’re entitled to, which is 0.13% of the UK stock. And we are actually in the top 10% of countries in the world for our vaccination delivery. Thank you. And then finally, last but not least, he always seems to be last on the press conferences I do and Paul Moulton from Alomar, nice, sunny allomancy, the television really moved into the newspapers as well.
Paul Moulton 30:59
Don’t ask for another conspiracy theory. We’ve got a D notice listing already going out there. We’ve already met today, Stratford. And I want to go back to Josh’s question, are you getting much more there? I mean, maybe I pushed you hard. But this situation with the steam packets and the exemption order, we did get you to say something online to this afternoon, which you haven’t said here today. In fact, technically, those two packet people were breaking the law, but you actually set
David Ashford 31:25
up for us now. Well, actually, what I said, Paul, if you go back to your interview tapes, I think you’ll find is that in relation to the direction notice they weren’t complying with the direction out, as I pointed out, it’s a corporate direction notice on the steam packet company, and it’s a duty of the company to ensure that their employees comply with any direction notices that is issued. That’s what I said on your interview. And I think that’s exactly me repeating it word for word.
Unknown Speaker 31:48
Paul Moulton 31:48
but something’s gone horribly wrong. But you need to correct yes.
David Ashford 31:51
Well, as I said, again, in our interview we’ve done this afternoon, I don’t want to repeat our entire full length interview.
Unknown Speaker 31:57
David Ashford 31:57
we need to allow the investigations to take their course, and find out what has gone wrong. Clearly, something has gone wrong somewhere. As far as alleman, government was concerned, the steam packet were quite clear on what the obligations were. But clearly somewhere down the line, the steam packet claims they weren’t. And we now need to meet and resolve that. So there needs to be an investigation on what has gone on in the past. But as I said to you, the other key point is that we work on what’s going to happen in the future. Because it is that is the crucial part for me that we find a way to move forward to ensure that steam packet crews can continue to operate on the steam pack and as a business can continue to operate, while at the same time providing health protection for the wider community of the Ireland. That for me is the crucial point. For me investigations come secondary to that.
Paul Moulton 32:48
Is it a police investigation?
David Ashford 32:50
No, it isn’t. It is an investigation. Within the steam packet that we’ve asked the steam packet to investigate what has happened.
Paul Moulton 32:58
No question. Go back to Beth SP this morning, Manx radio, this thing about the noodle bar and how the staff have gone back to work. You said you’re going to come back later and debt net nets have missed it. Have you asked that question why the staff can go back but everyone was in the noodle bars and told to start off with an isolate.
David Ashford 33:13
I’ll bring the Director of Public Health in in a minute. But the difference between people was those people who were done as part of the surveillance test. And now it maybe it was the hour in the morning I was being asked this morning. But I didn’t quite get the question at the time. But I assume what was being asked was around the difference of some people who have to remain self isolated, which will be the high risk contacts who have been isolated for the full period. And those who who come forward as part of the surveillance testing, who then get a negative result and can then go back around their lives. But I’ll bring the Director of Public Health in in case I’m completely off base.
Henrietta Ewart 33:47
No, that’s correct. Obviously, the noodle bar was identified as a low risk area. And as we always do with that people were reminded to be vigilant and come forward. If they develop symptoms somebody did. And then we changed the guidance and asked for everybody who was there to come forward for surveillance testing. And as you’ll remember, from the issues around Christmas in the new year, one of the keys to when you do surveillance testing is the time from when the case was there because if you do it, you know 2448 hours after the case was there, you won’t pick up positives even in people who will become positive. So the timing lent itself to surveillance. And that was done. The people who have come back negative from that, including the staff can go back to being low risk contacts, which means they can go about their lives, but with vigilance for any symptoms and reporting of those should they merge.
Paul Moulton 34:49
So with that positive from the member staff or whatever, does that not move it from low to medium risk or something? No, it
Henrietta Ewart 34:57
wasn’t a member of staff. It was another customer And on follow up contact tracing, geographical proximity between the recent case and the original one was confirmed. So that doesn’t widen it out any further, in fact, enables us to say we don’t need to wind it out any further widen it out any
David Ashford 35:19
further. Well, can I thank our media partners for those questions. Just before we go today, I know that there’s a lot of people out there who may be concerned about recent events. I just want to reassure people that at the moment, everything is fine. With everyday people do not need to take any additional measures. At this time. We asked people to remain vigilant and to monitor the situation. And if we do have anything further to report, as soon as we have the facts, we will communicate them to you. You may see people who feel more comfortable in public social distancing, or wearing face masks. Please respect those individuals decisions, because we should be respectful to all in our community at this difficult time and a pandemic. So thank you all for your continued observance of the rules. And that’s all for today. Thank you.