This is a very rough and unverified transcript of the Isle of Man Government’s Coronavirus Media Briefing held on Tuesday 6 April 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. I’m here at the podium with the Minister for Health and Social Care. And our Director of Public Health joins us on Zoom today. I hope you’re all able to enjoy some of the sunshine over the Easter weekend. And I hope you were also able to catch up with loved ones thanks to the changes we announced at the end of last week. It was great for me personally to pop around, see my parents, drop off some cakes and enjoy a catch up in the garden. I hope you were able to do something special to and I hope that was outdoors, respecting social distancing rules, and face coverings wherever possible. Let’s go straight to our regular updates first to the Minister of Health and Social Care, David.
David Ashford 0:44
Thank you, Chief Minister. Firstly, the statistics for today the total number of tests undertaken is 47,927. The total test concluded is also 47,927, meaning the lab at the time and snapshot have processed all of the tests that they had received. From that we have one new case identified in the last 24 hours. It is linked to a known source and it is someone that was already in self isolation. So that brings the total case count to 1572. We currently have 109 active cases, one of those in hospital with non in ICU at nobles. Turning to the vaccination programme, the vaccination programme does continue a pace and letters have now gone out to the 40 to 45 age group. Over the next week letters will start going out to those aged 35 to 39. Over 55% of the adult population, and 48% of the overall population have now received at least one dose of the vaccine. And we are now close to having 50% of our entire population or one in every two people vaccinated. That’s a milestone we should pass later this week. If there is still anyone in those categories that are in phase one, such as those aged over 50, and those who are clinically vulnerable, that has not registered for their vaccine as yet, I would urge them to do so. They can do this either by registering online at COVID-19 dot gov.im forward slash vaccine wedge or by calling 111. Sticking with vaccines for a moment, can I ask the people when attending the hopes follow the directions of the staff at the hopes if you are accompanying Someone, please listen to the instructions and everyone follow and ensure that everyone follows the one way systems in place. Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of people are happy to follow the rules in place. But sadly, I have been made aware of some issues, and one particularly disappointing one of someone becoming aggressive to the vaccination hubstaff when being asked to wear a mask, and there was a threat of violence made, I need to make clear aggression towards vaccination hubstaff will not be tolerated. With incidents like this, the person will be refused vaccination and the police will be called we take the protection of our staff seriously. The staff within the hubs are working exceptionally hard to ensure the protection of our population, and they deserve to be showing the respect for the job they are doing and treated with dignity. The hubs are set up to ensure the protection of the people being vaccinated, and also the staff working within the home environment. And it is important that people follow the instructions given and understand that the rules are in place for a reason. And for the protection of everyone turning to care and nursing homes. I do realise that the restrictions on visitation currently in place are frustrating for friends, family and loved ones of those residents. But at this current time, those restrictions are important. Although our care home residents have been vaccinated, the vaccine effectiveness takes time to build. And it is important still at this stage that we don’t do anything to compromise that once we have prolonged lack of community transmission, the visitation advice to homes will be reviewed. But at the current time, it is important that there remains restrictions in place. And we ask that people understand that and that at the current time these restrictions are still necessary. I would also like to take the opportunity to once again thank all of the staff across our health and social care sector on the island. Not those just those within government roles, but also out in the private sector. And the third sector as well. The work you have all been doing over the last year has kept our island safe from the worst effects of COVID-19. And I would like to thank you all for your continued hard work in doing so. Thank you Chief Minister.
Howard Quayle 4:59
Thank you very much David. Now it was a relief each day over the Easter weekend to see no unexplained cases, those with unknown transmissions that bother us so much from the 25th of March to today. So 13 days, we’ve only seen that single unknown case on the 29th. If it had not been for that case, we will be starting to breathe a sigh of relief. And talking about the end of this lockdown. We are edging closer to that point. But that single case does remain a niggle. And a few more days, I hope we will be more confident that the case on the 29th is no longer a cause for concern. As it is we can be cautiously optimistic that the outbreak is under control. We are not going to reset the clock every time we see a case. And we will not let a single case derail our steady progress towards normality. But when there is uncertainty, I hope people understand that we need to tread more carefully. Let me hand over to our Director of Public Health for her update. I know she will characterise the current situation far more expertly than I can talk to you.
Henrietta Ewart 6:08
Thank you, Chief Minister, there’s little to add to the figures which will basically speak for themselves and can be seen in the curves on the inflammation website, which are now coming down very nicely. The issue with the single unexplained case from a few days back is really linking to the the metaphor I’ve used in the past about Moreland fires where you can potentially get a fire that’s gone down under the peat layers, you don’t know it’s there, unless or until it pops out. And that shows you where it’s October, but it doesn’t show you where else it might be going in the peat layer. So that is really where we are at the moment. And obviously, as the chief minister has just said, the more days we can put between us and any further unexplained community cases, the more confident we can be that that was a single sporadic one which clearly must have come from somewhere, we’re assured that to contact tracing, we’ve closed down any onward lines of transmission from it. But there is just that little niggle that there could still be a little bit out there in the peat layer that could pop out again. Other data that is reassuring, of course, and I’ve mentioned this before as well is the percentage positivity rate, the percentage of the tests done that are actually positive, and that is continuing to stay nice and low. Obviously on the days when we don’t get any positive tests, it’s zero. When we do get a positive test, it comes up to something like point something of a percentage, so less than 1%. So all of that is also very encouraging that we don’t have a significant amount of undetected cases sitting out in the community. And as the chief minister has said, and I think I said earlier, two more days we put between ourselves and the last sporadic community case, the more assured we can be. Thank you, Chief Minister.
Howard Quayle 8:11
Okay, thank you very much stopped, you attended a good job, the mangas government banned the burning of Manx Pete on the island to help with the situation. Right so we will continue our careful and steady path towards normality. For the moment the focus will be on outdoors. I am pleased that today we are seeing the resumption of a range of construction work. I know how important the sector is for so many people in our community. Whether this is indoor trades who are now able to work in vacant on inhabited properties. for outdoor construction. It is crucial that they maintain the highest levels of hygiene, respect social distancing rules, and wear face coverings as much as possible. It may be easy for people to maintain that distance through the day while working on site. But these defences are only as good as the weakest link. Please think about that time in the van when making a brew. And think about the implications of sharing tools. I’m glad that today has also seen our garden centres able to open again. If you do visit one this week, please respect the staff and all the customers give them the space they need. This is of course true to all retail settings, be patient kind and courteous. I hope that the opening of the garden centres is the start of a safe and steady reopening of our retail sector. There are a number of sectors that may be able to follow soon. These include non essential retail or lifestyle businesses, and other areas where maybe we can retain some mitigation measures to continue our safe and steady approach. The council of ministers will again look at this on Thursday and consider the evolving data. We still hope to be able to lift the majority of measures on or around the 19th of April. We do hope to be able to allow non essential retail to open soon. If we are able to do so, this may not include our lifestyle businesses immediately those businesses like hairdressers, barbers and beauticians, but we hope that all being well, they will be able to follow soon after. I make this point at almost every briefing, but I will do so again. We all want this to be the last lockdown we go through. So we need to get our exit from it absolutely right. This needs to be a safe and steady one way journey. We will only keep measures in place for as long as they are needed. But we may also slow our exit. If the data tells us it is the right thing to do. I know that even when we decide we are ready for a particular sector to open or reopen, some people may decide they are not quite ready and wish to wait a little longer. I remember last year some businesses wanted to wait an extra week or two to be sure. And of course that is absolutely fine. When the Council of Ministers gives the green light, it provides the opportunity to reopen. It is not an obligation. And the same is true for people. I know that there are people in our community who remain anxious about the virus. I completely understand that you know your situation and your best place to make the right decisions for you. One setting where we have to ensure the highest level of safety is our schools and preschools. The Minister for Education, sport and culture updated us all last week on a phased return for our young people. As things stand the plan remains the same as it was when he briefed us. Teachers will be able to return to their schools next Monday the 12th. To prepare. Our aim remains to open primary schools in a phased manner. Starting on Tuesday the 13th of April 1 it will be for vulnerable children and children whose parents are essential workers who need to attend their place of work to keep our islands safe and running. In secondary skills, our aim is gradually to reopen them to students from the 13th of April. Initially, this will be for selected year 11 and 15 students who are required to undertake further work and assessments. This is to enable teachers to accurately grade their performance and submit the results to external examination boards. We then hope to be able to welcome all children back to school from Monday the 19th of April. This of course depends on the data telling us that it is safe to do so. The council of ministers will be discussing this again at its meeting on Thursday, we will consider the most recent data and advice from public health. And we will let you know the outcome later that day.
Howard Quayle 12:57
at almost every briefing now I’ve had the pleasure of marking another achievement of the vaccination programme, and today is no exception. Over the Easter weekend, the team took us through the milestone of 40,000 people in our community who have had at least one dose and this really is impressive. This now means that over 90% of the 45,000 people in those all important phase one groups have now had at least one dose and over 15,000 have had both the jcvi that’s the UK is joined committee on vaccination and immunisation estimates that Taken together, the phase one group represents around 99% of preventable mortality from COVID. Our most vulnerable, those most at risk from COVID are getting protected at pace. This is great news. And please when you get your letter, get on the phone to 111 or go online and register for your appointments. Let’s take some questions. And first we have Paul Moulton from Isle of Man television. Good afternoon, Paul foster my Thank you,
Paul Moulton 14:10
Chief, let’s go back to the question I put you on Thursday, you at a time said you hadn’t had time to review, Dr. Rachel Glover’s testimony to the PAC meeting, you must by now will have gone through very carefully. And there was obviously some very, very damaging things said in that. How’d you react to it?
Howard Quayle 14:26
Well, I think I’ll leave that for the health minister as Chief Minister. I don’t get involved with people such as Dr. Glover. Myself, that’s something that the department of health and social care do I think I’ve only met the lady once at a social function award winning event. So I talked
Paul Moulton 14:43
to David on Sunday. I’ve asked him that question Marcin you because you’re you front this and the damning thing was said that basically made technically some of the information said may not actually be what was being given to you. This is for you to respond to what she said because it’s it’s about bringing the whole question of these press conferences. into into light now to how you react to what she said,
Howard Quayle 15:04
Well, no bullet, it’s if I get asked to give evidence to the committee, I will say I’ve never met the lady. I’ve never had any conversation with her. So I will wait and see what the committee say, obviously, there’s always two sides to the story. And I know the department of health and social care and the health minister will be giving their side of events to the situation, but it’s really nothing for me to get involved with.
Paul Moulton 15:25
You have read it, though, Have you listened to it?
Howard Quayle 15:28
I have been advised of it. But what a person says you have to wait till you hear the other side of the evidence to then make a decision. We’ve all heard one side of the story. And I know there are elements that will be disputed. And I will let the department of health and social care who have dealt with the with the lady in question to give their side of the story and then we’ll get a fuller picture.
Paul Moulton 15:53
But basically it should the public be concerned, you know, with what’s going on?
Howard Quayle 15:58
Well, I think we wait and see the other side of the story. Paul, I’m personally not concerned at this moment in time we wait and see there’s always two sides to a story. Let’s see what the department of health and social care who have been dealing directly with Dr. Glover have to say, obviously, allegations have been made. Let’s see what the other side have to say on what they can back up as evidence. Okay,
Paul Moulton 16:20
on a different note, I’ve seen it it’s a year since you went down with COVID. And of course of all the people you went down with long COVID. So totally different this question. How are you doing? What recommendations can you do to people who are suffering? And are you over complaining of use or loss your taste and smell?
Howard Quayle 16:38
Right? Well, no, I haven’t got my sense of taste and smell back properly at its sample delighted to say an element of it has come back. But I am suffering from some of the long term COVID issues that are sadly, a number of people go through and I’m still having that experience. So yeah, I think it’s a concern for all people who have had COVID that long COVID can impact you for a long time. There’s an awful lot of people I hasten to add who an awful lot worse than me. I’ve had some very distressing emails from people telling me about their experiences with with long COVID. But you’ve asked me the question, I still have certain elements of long COVID which I hope will go away with time.
Paul Moulton 17:21
What is this fatigue? Besides the taste and the smell, but what else?
Howard Quayle 17:25
Well, I don’t want to add my personal symptoms on on a live on on the on the interview board. But yeah, fatigue and muscle aches are the main issues that are concerns caused me concern but life goes on. You just got to get on with it, haven’t you?
Paul Moulton 17:39
Can you believe it’s a year?
Howard Quayle 17:42
Well, this year has has whizzed away. It’s just been nonstop long hours, lots of stress for all the team. But I think we’ve got our Ireland in a good position. And we hope that in the coming months we’ll be not having to do these regular updates and that COVID whilst we’ll have to live with it for a long time, we’ll just be an annual jab or a boost to protect ourselves against it. Thank you, Paul. We now move on to Helen McKenna from Isle of Man newspapers. Good afternoon, Helen foster my
Helen McKenna 18:14
nice new ministers. I first question is for the health minister, please. There was a channel for news report, I think it was on yesterday, which reported that the UK medicines regulator could meet this week to discuss whether the AstraZeneca vaccine shouldn’t be injected into younger people, particularly younger women. Due to the risk of a rare blood clots which could develop if the regulator decides to stop administering this particular job. Will the Isle of Man follow suits?
David Ashford 18:43
The simple answer is Helen. Yes, I believe the MH ra did meet last week actually to consider the position. And their advice continued that the benefits of the vaccine are were any particular risks. This is in relation just to expand it a bit to the 22 reports of what’s called CVS T and eight reports of other thrombosis events. So 30 cases that have been being looked at and the MH are there yesterday, in fact as recent as yesterday issued a statement saying the risk of having this specific type of blood clot is very small, up to an include in 24th of March they say about the 30 cases out of a total of 18 point 1 million doses of COVID-19 being given by that date. So they say they’ve they’ve thoroughly analysed each and every report as soon as it’s come in. And to note the current analysis prints include data up to an including 21st of March. So they have not changed their advice that the vaccine shall continue to use. I know there’s been widespread media reports about them supposedly going to look at whether it should be used and under 30s or not. But let’s not go on media speculation. Let’s wait for the mha themselves to actually come forward and actually say it Well, first thing I would say is in relation to the CSV T’s. In a normal unvaccinated population, it would actually be expected to produce an instance of three to six cases, I believe, per million people. So if you look at the number of people who’ve been vaccinated with AstraZeneca, which is 18.1, even in normal circumstances that would give you between 54 to 109 cases in an unvaccinated population of that size. So it’s not at the moment seeing anything out of the ordinary. I know there was a piece today from one individual in the European medical agency, but the European Medicines Agency, I believe in the last hour just before we came on this briefing, has again said they are continuing to advise the use of AstraZeneca. And I’ll hand over to Director of Public Health in case she’s got any further anything further to add.
Henrietta Ewart 20:48
Thank you, Minister. You’ve just given a very comprehensive and up to date, outline. Obviously, we’re linked into m hrs, HRA and the Joint Committee on vaccination and immunisation. So we hear directly as they appraise new evidence, and as the minister has said, we would expect to follow their evidence based recommendations as and when they make them. Thank you.
Helen McKenna 21:11
Okay. My second question is for the chief minister, how likely is it that hospitality businesses will be the last to reopen?
Howard Quayle 21:20
Right, I’ve just missed it. I think you said was on hospitality. Helen, that you said.
Helen McKenna 21:25
Howard Quayle 21:26
Yeah. Well, it will be the last thing to open hospitality young people and nightclubs, people going into restaurants. It will probably be restaurants will be before nightclubs I should imagine. But if the if we go from now to the the 17th 19th. Without any more unexplained cases, then we’re not going to be far away. One might be a week ahead of the other. So there’s not I can’t see big gaps between us. But we must get this right. And it’s sad. But there’s one case unexplained case, which we haven’t been able to. Definitely link has caused some concern. But I think if we’re looking at this time next week, and we still haven’t had any more unexplained cases, then we could, we should be on track, Helen with with the hospitality sectors opening and hopefully by the 19th. We’ll be there about for everything, but so it Fingers crossed, we’ll just have to keep on watching the data. Thank you. Thanks very much, Alan. Next we have Rob precharged. from three FM Good afternoon, Rob, Pastor, my
Paul Moulton 22:30
pastor, my chief minister question probably to any of you actually, you said that the unexplained case on the 29th. You described as a niggle, and you said that it does. But he’s also said it doesn’t quite fully reset the clock as it were to coined that phrase, just so people have a bit more of an idea, even if it isn’t an exact figure, in an instance like this, where we’re hoping to start easing, but an unexplained case comes about does it set back your plans at all by say, five days or 10 days in general, just so people have a bit more clarity as to how it makes you have to adapt?
Howard Quayle 23:06
Well, I suppose Rob, it really is the history that goes with it. That Well, we’ll decide that there’s no such thing as a perfect test case where all cases are the same if it if it’s in a setting that we can quickly isolate. And we find no further cases of it, then that might be different from an area where the person works on there’s a big area or it’s a school. So I can’t give an exact science date, we are expecting more cases. But if those are cases that are already in isolation, high risk with existing cases, then that’s not going to be a problem at all. For us, we won’t be counting them as any any concern is that onyx unexplained case. And it will be how that unexplained split unexplained case appears and the data around it and where it’s happened, etc. That will decide how we react, I’m afraid there’s no perfect answer. Maybe the Health Minister can give a perfect answer.
David Ashford 24:03
And I think you’ve given a pretty perfect answer there chief minister in the fact that it would depend upon the the scenario around the case. And there’s no exact science to this. Unfortunately, Robert, it’d be nice if there was but there isn’t. So you can have different types of unexplained cases. So if you have a case that just popped up in the community with absolutely no connection, or even a generalised connection to anything, then that would be a serious, serious concern where they’ve not had any interface with any environment where we have identified previously, there’s a risk, you could equally have an unexplained case, for instance, where someone has been in an environment where there’s been all the cases, but what you can’t do is draw that exact link as to where they got it in that environment, or say for certain they are linked to the other cases in that environment. Now that they would still remain an unexplained case, even although the likelihood or probability as you do potentially know The routes of transmission, but you can’t establish them. So it would depend upon the circumstances around on explain cases. Like I say, if you start seeing them popping up in different environments where you wouldn’t expect them to be appearing, then that is very different to ones that might have been in an environment of cases where you may be able to propose a link, but you can’t firmly establish it. But I’ll bring the Director of Public Health in in case she’s anything further to add.
Henrietta Ewart 25:27
Thank you, I think it’s been very comprehensively described. And yes, a single sporadic case would not of itself necessarily make you put the brakes on for relaxing, the lowest risk restriction. So for example, outdoor activities, obviously, more sporadic cases popping up would cause pause for thought. But one, and particularly as we get more clear days, wouldn’t cause you to reverse working through the relaxation of restriction starting with the lowest risk ones. Thank you.
Howard Quayle 26:06
Thanks for that. Rob. Also, I think it’s worth pointing out as we edge closer to getting more and more of our population vaccinated, then that’s data that you would take into account to, as I’ve said before, we we are going to have to learn to live with COVID for a long, long time, we can’t keep it off the island forever. And as we age towards a really good place with our vaccination programme, then that also will have an impact on how we act assess assess the risk to the people of the island.
Paul Moulton 26:38
Thank you. Secondly, just regards the schools and hopes to start a phase reopening from next week. Pardon me if I did miss that. This was mentioned before. But will this phased approach also apply to nurseries and childminders?
Howard Quayle 26:52
Yes, there’s obviously full details on the website. Key workers will will take priority obviously there won’t be a doubt if they’ll have to go in and open their schools up for the key workers but for the for the nurseries. But if there is any difference to that, I’ll let you know. I don’t know, David, if you’ve got any details on that.
David Ashford 27:13
In terms of the phase, there’s already within the regulations where childcare services can be used. Those stay in place. The whole of the education establishment will be doing a phased phased return, basically. But in terms of regulations, there is already within the regulation circumstances in which childcare, including professional childcare can be used.
Howard Quayle 27:37
Okay. Okay. Thanks very much, Rob. We now move on to john moss from Manx radio. Good afternoon, john faster.
Unknown Speaker 27:44
Good afternoon, ministers and Dr. Yours. This for the chief minister, did the easing of rules that were issued in time for Easter the gathering of 10 have the backing of law.
Howard Quayle 27:57
Well, all the regulations were put in sight and time. Yes, john. So it was done. That evening signed off by the Council of Ministers. So yes, the law was there. The police were advised so everything was correct.
Unknown Speaker 28:10
That was able to go before the Council of Ministers without having to come before the keys.
Howard Quayle 28:15
Well, if you follow what happened, what’s happened for the last year john has at the Council of Ministers approved the regulations. And then within a certain period of time, and they’re they that make some law, they have to then go to Tim old for timbrels approval, that’s what will happen. So they are legal. Now if Tim will decide they don’t like the rules going, when when they next set, then they won’t be law, but at this moment in time that their their law.
Unknown Speaker 28:41
Thank you, one for the health minister. In the age groupings between 65 and 69, there seems to be a substantial disparity between the number of invitations sent out and the bookings for vaccination resulting something like 5000 plus in that age group, yet the vaccinations seem to be well down by is that
David Ashford 29:01
I’m not sure what disparity you’re referring to there, john, I mean, I’ve I’ve got the table in front of me. And as the chief minister has said, in those older age groups, we’re looking at over 90%, having been vaccinated. And overall in the cohorts, there are some people who may, for whatever reason have been reluctant to come forward vaccination at this point in time. That’s why in my speech again, today, I’ve urged those people who are in those priority groups to register sooner rather than later. For the vaccination. vaccination is a personal choice. So we are never going to get to a position where 100% of every single cohort is vaccinated, because for whatever various reasons, there may be people that for medical reasons, can’t be vaccinated, or people who from personal choice decide for whatever reason, they don’t wish to be vaccinated. You know, we have put the letters out to all those cohorts. We are now moving on to about my age group, I have myself have received my invitation for vaccination and registered and so I would urge anyone who has received a letter to come forward Would unregister. But I don’t quite see a huge disparity I’m looking at the figures live here in front of me. And in fact, across almost all of the top priority groups, there is, for instance, on the 65 to 69 year olds, currently vaccinated stands at 74, just under 74%, the 60 to 60, fours at 70% and the 55 to 59 to 65%.
Unknown Speaker 30:28
So there is 26%, that haven’t taken this up is that worrying?
David Ashford 30:33
Well, then what you also have to look at john is those that are still waiting to be vaccinated, so people will register at different times. So that doesn’t take into account of course, that’s the people who’ve had at least one first dose, there were many people who are have actually applied since then, and will be waiting to be vaccinated.
Unknown Speaker 30:50
Other follow up invitations,
David Ashford 30:52
we will be looking at that in relation to in relation to different age cohorts. Once we’ve got through the age cohorts, we will loop via the GPS, potentially, if they’re if they’re willing to work with us on that to send out and do reminders to people. Like I say vaccination is a choice. I’ve always been very clear on that, as Minister. It’s not a compulsion. But we would urge people to get vaccinated.
Unknown Speaker 31:16
Minister, thank you very much.
Howard Quayle 31:17
Thanks. Well, I think before we move on to Simon, that it’s worth pointing out also, that there have been a number of people I know at one stage but a few 1000 people who were in isolation or were unable to get the vaccine, so they will be waiting on cancellations etc, to to come forward. So that might explain a certain percentage of people who have been vaccinated not all of them, but that as I say, there was a few 1000 which for the Isle of Man will impact the percentages in some areas significantly. So next we have Simon Richardson from business 365 Good afternoon, Simon fester. My
Simon Richardson 31:53
Good afternoon, Chief Minister have my first question is do you concur with the comment today from the UK vaccines minister, Nadeem zahawi, that it would be remiss of the government not to consider COVID certification as a way of fully reopening the economy? And are we not in a similar position here in the Isle of Man in that respect?
Howard Quayle 32:14
Well, I think the UK I’m not saying they’re all over the place at the moment, we’re getting all sorts of different comments from vaccinations and certificates. Now, they are walking towards that. And the Prime Minister yesterday, in his speech said that the vaccination certificates for people going on holiday, etc, may well be something that will happen. But they as this at this moment in time have not come up with any detail. They are asking for feedback from the public and from politicians, it may well be that that’s the way forward we’ll have to monitor that situation. Obviously, if the UK come up with a law that states you can’t travel without a vaccination passport, our IT systems allow for that to be shared if an individual wants that detail to be shared. But we’ll just have to we can react quickly to the situation Simon when it happens, but the UK have not come up with a a solid proposal of something that will definitely be happening. But I know that health ministers spent a lot of time on this.
David Ashford 33:16
Yeah, yeah, I think Simon it’s very important. We don’t take the vaccine Minister’s comments out of context. And we actually look at the question he was actually asked this morning, the question he was asked, was around the backlash to the suggestion of como from the UK government in relation to the possibility of this, and particularly amongst government backbenchers, and also the opposition that seems in the UK to be coming out against this. So he was asked that particular question and what he actually said in response to that was, it is only right, we look at all these options that were available to us to take our lives back. So what he was actually saying was that it’s important that all options are on the table. He wasn’t saying the UK government’s going to go down that route, or that he personally believe they should go down that route. He was simply saying the UK government was looking at all options on the table. And that was one of many, many options. And the
Simon Richardson 34:07
other view on the principle,
David Ashford 34:09
like I say, I mean, I think I’ve said him, I said to Manx radio this morning, actually, I did Manx radio Breakfast Show. Personally, I’d need to be convinced of it. Because as the chief minister and myself both and the director of public health as well said at this conference many many times, the vaccine doesn’t stop someone contracting COVID-19. And while the Covent reports that are coming out are looking exceptionally good around reducing of transmissibility, there isn’t any evidence yet. It prevents transmissibility. So I’m passing it on to others. So you it’s not like yellow fever job, where you can have a certificate and say someone’s safe with COVID, the person could still harbour it and could potentially still pass it on. So at that point, like I say, we’d need to have more evidence around that to show what the vaccination certificate would actually effectively achieve. And we also have To Be careful, we don’t end up with a twin speed society in the fact that there are people who for very valid medical reasons can’t be vaccinated. As I’ve said many times, I’ve always come from the position that vaccination is a choice.
Simon Richardson 35:12
Thank you. And my second question once again, for the chief minister, there seems to be an even greater number of businesses who are hovering on the brink during the current lockdown. Given what you said earlier today, are you confident that with the vaccination programme, on course, that despite the predicted slowdown this month, that it will not be necessary to close down the economy again, if there is another cluster of cases?
Howard Quayle 35:37
Why sincerely hope we don’t have to close down some and that’s why we’re being so cautious in our opening are coming out of this current lockdown, the data is looking good. But we do not want to have to go back to a lockdown. I think because we’ve got on so well with our vaccination programme, that a full lockdown, I would hope wouldn’t have to happen again. absolute worst case, we might have to put some measures in place for social distancing, etc. But I would sincerely hope that as we get close now to vaccinating all of our vulnerable people and giving them you have to remember they need at least a fortnight to build up some form of immunisation to COVID-19 that we don’t have to go back to any further lockdowns.
Unknown Speaker 36:23
Thank you very much.
Howard Quayle 36:24
Thank you very much, Simon. Now we move on to Sam Turton from Jeff. Good afternoon, Sam. Pastor, my
Sam Turton 36:30
ex, my chief minister, I just wonder if we could start with in the actual point of clarification, do libraries fall under non essential retail categories? If something I was asked and said I check.
Howard Quayle 36:43
Write a good question. Well, from memory, and I’ll clarify, I’ll put out a statement. If that’s not the case, they are not essential at this moment in time. Obviously, we are having a meeting on Thursday where we’ll have more data, more more days, hopefully of no cases in the community. And we’ll be able to make announcements on what we can allow back in time. But at this moment in time, I don’t see libraries, they’re inside. And they they’re not essential. I’m sure they think they will be essential. And they they are important, but they’re not just essential at this moment in time.
Sam Turton 37:20
Grant me just first is a question on the UK that also can be offering an England sorry, two free tests a week to people and switch them, they’re doing up to 10 a month. You’ve said previously the monks taxpayers shouldn’t bear the cost of testing for people who’ve been travelling. But if they’re going to have to be a point where we accept this will become part of life in the short term at least, and that cost will perform to the taxpayer?
Howard Quayle 37:44
Well, if it’s a cost that does good for the people of Allah man, then of course, we will, we’ll go ahead with it. But we have to be have to see the evidence that I think the UK have put nearly a billion pounds aside. So that’s a significant amount of money, pro rata for the Isle of Man, for it to work. So I, you know, we firmly believe that doing what’s right, it has to be better than doing what’s seen to be right. And if there is a case that this would work for the people of the Allah man going forward, then of course, something council of ministers will take very seriously. But I know, Dr. You it is far more capable of giving a more detailed answer than I can on that.
Henrietta Ewart 38:28
Thank you, Chief Minister. Yes, there are a lot of issues about population screening for COVID. And in particular, the use of the lateral flow devices for that purpose. The lateral flow devices seem to be very good at picking up people with high levels of virus, which is good, but they also do miss a significant number of people who are infected, either because the test is badly done and doesn’t find the virus was there, or the test is done okay. But the person was still incubating and may have had a test that did not read positive at the time, but go on to be infectious the next day. So there are all manner of issues around this testing modality and how you interpret it. In terms of using it for mass population screening. This is completely experimental, there is no data or evidence to indicate how well it works, what the pluses and minuses from it might be. One of the major problems that one can anticipate from it is when you start trying to use it as a screening test. In a population which is actually experiencing very low levels of COVID infection, then the risk of picking up false positives actually becomes a bigger risk than the risk of missing positives. And that’s because the pretest probability that anyone particularly someone with no symptoms whatsoever as in screening cons, Next is actually going to be positive for COVID is very, very low. So the risk, then, as I say, becomes that you pick up more false positives, you then have to think about what the implications of that are both for the person and their family and the wider economy. And if what you’re saying to them is, if your Lfd is positive, you must go home, and you and your household must isolate. And you must contact 111 in our case, and get a PCR to confirm whether or not that Lfd was accurate or not, then you’re actually putting a lot of burden on those individuals and potentially the economy for having taken them out of the economy, you then create another layer of issue, because when they have the PCR, the question is how do you interpret that PCR results? If the PCR is positive? Do you then require them to self isolate? If it’s negative? Do you accept that it was negative? Or do you say maybe we should retest this, we actually don’t know, because these studies have never ever been done. So this is actually quite a fraught area. And as the people who provide the sort of behavioural insights to the UK government on this, as they’ve pointed out, actually, people will be quite likely to vote with their feet and not actually come forward for testing. There was a study published I think, over the weekend, or just at the end of last week, that indicates that even people who are symptomatic with COVID symptoms, only about one in four of them actually come forward for testing in the UK. And the reasons for that are going to be many fold. But probably a fairly key one is that these are people who are really concerned about having to take time out of work, losing COMM The impact on their whole household if they will have to isolate. And so actually, they take a call that it’s better not to go and be tested. So if we’re talking there about people who already have symptoms, the uptake for people with no symptoms, bearing in mind, the burden on them, if they get a positive Lfd result, really does have to call into question whether it’s going to be useful to try and do that. And the answer is, as of now, we just don’t know because it’s never been trialled never been piloted, and it’s all a big experiment. Really. Thank you.
Howard Quayle 42:27
Okay, thanks, Sam.
Sam Turton 42:30
And just don’t second property again, for the period just in terms of if pubs and restaurants are able to reopen, could we just get explanation behind thinking of why lifestyle and such as beauty salons, maybe a bit behind them on that
Henrietta Ewart 42:45
all of these things need need assessing at the time, obviously, if you’re providing a lifestyle service, often that requires really very close work with the client. When we went through this before in previous lockdown, it is possible to do a sort of risk assessment that could say that certain services are lower risk than others. But once you’re doing anything that requires, you know, eyebrow threading, brow shaping, massage services, those are actually quite difficult to mitigate, because they do obviously require very close proximity and effectively face to face contact and physical contact. Whereas there are more mitigations that you can offer for example, in a restaurant setting, thank you,
Howard Quayle 43:37
if I can just come in some I think when I gave my examples, it was non essential retail will will be first so maybe going into a fabric shop say to to get stuff, then you would have the likes of hairdressers where PP can be worn. And then you would have say a nightclub as one of the very last events that you would have or opening the gaiety or or the the villa Marina or that’s the sort of different levels so hairdressing, etc, would come in between those two phases that I’ve just described. Thanks very much, Sam. Now we move on to Josh Stokes from ITV. Granada. Good afternoon, Josh faster. My afternoon,
Josh Stokes 44:18
Chief Minister, my first question the exit strategy documents talks about the shift from an elimination strategy to a mitigation strategy. And it’s a question that some have asked me for clarity. So you’re just able to clarify how we now moved into that mitigation phase where we’re expected to live with the virus or is the ultimate aim at this point is still focused around elimination?
Howard Quayle 44:37
Well, at this moment in time, we’re trying to eliminate the virus from the island that that is our aim. Obviously, I’m when I say eliminated bar, people travelling to the island who have to isolate, but that’s for a very short period of time. As we move then towards the end of the month, where we’ve set out our stall that if the UK infection rate is right, then we will be allowing people to come to the island who Our family and friends to visit. So it’s a staged approach. At this moment in time, it is elimination, but we’re very, very close to mitigating it. And I don’t know, David, if you want to or doctor, you want to expand on that.
David Ashford 45:13
Yeah, if I could Chief Minister before Bria, very briefly just before handing over to Director of Public Health, it’s never going to be one of those where it’s a clean line, one day, you’re eliminating the extra mitigating, there’s always going to be that area of transition between the two. And at the moment, we are still on elimination while aim at the moment is to get the Coronavirus out to the island. As the chief minister says bar those obviously that would come back into isolation and may have it themselves at that time, and get back to where we were previous lockdown. From that point on. Well, obviously, with the vaccination rollout and everything else, we can then start looking to move through the different stages of the exit strategy. But it’s never going to be a clean break of saying on the Monday we’re on elimination on the Tuesday we’re mitigation, there’s always going to be that transition phase between the two. And that is what we are heading towards now as we come towards the end of this month, I hand over to Director of Public Health.
Henrietta Ewart 46:09
Thank you minister, not a lot to add to that really other than just to say that obviously moving to mitigation is really an exercise in balancing the seesaw. That’s to say the risks of cases coming onto the island from elsewhere. And that obviously is a function of the levels in other countries, particularly across the UK, then the level of protection that we have in our population from vaccination. And in that we have to factor in people who have not been vaccinated for whatever reason, and also those who may have been vaccinated, but who we may be able to estimate will not get the full protection that others might. So all of that needs to be taken into account in terms of what the risk would be of introducing COVID back on Island, and how that would then run through our population if we had no mitigations in place, such as social, social distancing based coverings, etc. Or if we do move to a phase where we expect to live with some level of those mitigations for some time, and that might be about a longer term approach to the use of face coverings and social distancing. We really need to understand the figures and the risk and the modelling for how those different things play out in terms of finalising that the mitigation approach. Thank you.
Josh Stokes 47:33
Thank you for that answer. My second question. Chief Minister, outdoor pubs and shops will be reopening in England on April the 12th. Do you fear the Isle of Man could start to fall behind the UK and coming out of lockdown? And do you feel any sort of pressure from our near neighbours to open up quicker?
Howard Quayle 47:49
Well, no, just it’s not it’s not a race. Our island has enjoyed over 200 days in the last year, in the last 12 months have no restrictions whatsoever. We would like to get back to that situation as quickly as possible that the UK are making a number of announcements or when they’re going to start to allow that the loosening were not going to be too far behind with with this circuit break lockdown where there are there abouts. But no, I certainly don’t consider it to be a race we we have a situation on the Isle of Man. And I’ve said numerous times its main solutions for a main situation.
Josh Stokes 48:28
Just off the back of that I’m you’ve spoken about non essential retail we opening soon could this perhaps align within the lifting restrictions as well.
Howard Quayle 48:36
Again, now we have a council of ministers meeting on Thursday, Joshua, we normally make our more major decisions, which I’ll obviously be reporting back to 10 more members and then in the media briefing. Later on in the day, we will make the decision that’s right for the Isle of Man. Of course you look at data and you see the excellent situation that the UK find themselves in now with the number of infections and the low number of deaths and the falling hospital admissions which is excellent news. But we look at all that evidence but we then make up our mind what’s right for the Isle of Man and it’s certainly not a at no time at all. Will the Council of Ministers try and do something just to keep up with the United Kingdom? We do what’s right for the people of the island. Okay, thank you. Thanks very much, Josh. And last but not least we have Alex Bell from BBC Isle of Man. Good afternoon, Alex festa. My
Alex Bell 49:32
eye Good afternoon. And Chief Minister. It’s it’s now less than four weeks until the beginning of May. families and businesses I’m sure will be keen to know when more people can visit the island. Can you give any further clarity about what this border change might look like? So a target date for the loosening of restrictions and how it might look in terms of people who do visit having to isolate and for how long etc
Howard Quayle 50:00
You will also see the the the main thoughts that the council of ministers are looking at now, Alex, we’ve said that three a, we would hope to be around the end of April, beginning of May. And I think we’re still on track for that. Never Say Never obviously, if the data were to change for the worse, then that might impact on things. But that’s what we’ve been working to for some time now. And hopefully, the the level of vaccinations has been going exceptionally well, the team have done a fantastic job, we only have one person in hospital at this moment in time, which may be one to many, but it’s going in the right direction. So hopefully by the end of the month, with we’re still on track for that level three, I know the Minister for Health and Social Care would like to expand.
David Ashford 50:43
Yeah, I mean, we go were data driven on this really, Alex, I know people are exceptionally keen people haven’t been able to see many of their family for a long time. And so they’re keen for any news to try and move things forward. It will literally depend upon the data over the next few weeks, we hope that we are still on track for early May, to be able to move to that precious border level that will allow people to meet up again. But it will literally depend on what happens over the next few weeks.
Alex Bell 51:11
It’s more perhaps in terms of the notice period that you have to give to people and indeed businesses Island who might be ready to take hotel bookings, etc. When people come over again, how much notice Can people away from the Isle of Man reasonably expect before they know when they can come over?
David Ashford 51:28
Well, I would say we’ve always tried to give as much notice as possible to people, we’ve always tried to give at least a couple of weeks notice before we do any major changes. But like I say that will depend upon the data. We what’s important is we get this right, because there would be nothing worse than us moving to level three a and then for some reason having to then move back again, that would be absolutely devastating to people. So when we make that decision, we have got to make sure that we are in the right space, not just to make it but also to keep it in that space. Thank you.
Alex Bell 52:01
Another question, please for the Director of Public Health and Dr. Ewart. A couple of weeks ago Now you mentioned that the Isle of Man was looking to UK based model agencies to develop this model of how we might move into the mitigation phase of the strategy. I wonder if they made any specific recommendations to yourself or to the Manx governments in terms of what a mitigation strategy might look like, specifically in terms of what you just mentioned in a response before that people perhaps into where face coverings in certain public settings, etc. Have any specific recommendations been made.
Henrietta Ewart 52:36
Now, first of all, let me just clarify what we mean by an agency because that’s not the right word. The group we are fortunate to be working with is Professor Mike tilta. This group at mourik University and specifically the zeeman Institute within we’re at university. And they are one of the groups that submit modelling data into spy Mo, which is the modelling group that advises sage and sage advisors, the UK Government. So they are along with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Imperial College. Those are the three modelling groups that do most of the work for spy Mo. So that that’s who we’re talking about there. And we are still in the process of working with them to get them the data they need to populate the models. So although I talked about the parameters that we are wanting to see modelled, and which would which will then form data that Council of Ministers can take into consideration for policy development. We don’t have it yet. Thank you.
Howard Quayle 53:44
Okay, thank you very much, Alex. And thank you all very much for your questions. I know the weather is looking more like winter than spring for much of this week. But I hope you are able to get some time outdoors, or walk Outdoors is so important for our mental health. Please do everything you can to keep yourself and your loved one safe. only meet outdoors and keep your distance. Please continue to make the right decisions for you, your family and your island. It is your actions sort of got us to this place. And of course call 111 if you have anything that might be the symptoms of COVID. Please Don’t risk your health or the health of those who live or work with. That’s all for now. Thank you very much. Bye bye.