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615 take part in seven-day quarantine, none test positive

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A TOTAL of 615 people took part in the seven-day quarantine pilot scheme, and none of them tested positive for Covid-19.

Director of Public Health Dr Nicola Brink. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 28489272)

Despite that, the scheme is not being extended or repeated until at least 1 September, because of some logistical problems.

The main challenge is that the on-island testing capability is currently limited to around 400 per day, and that could be outstripped by the number of passengers arriving at the airport and harbour at the end of the summer.

Public Health is now considering a melting pot of different ideas and strategies for opening the border in the Autumn.

The pilot seven-day quarantine involved travellers who came to Guernsey between 5 and 10 July. These passengers were given the opportunity to have a coronavirus test on day seven after arrival, and they were allowed to skip the remaining self-isolation after they received a negative result.

They were then asked to keep a low profile and not mix with crowds between days eight and 14.

When it was initially announced it was presented as a low-risk compromise in opening up the borders, because the 14 day quarantine is considered extremely difficult mentally and physically.

Dr Nicola Brink, the director of Public Health, said the pilot had given them important information.

‘We have now had a chance to collate the data from the seven-day trial which shows that we have not picked up any new positive cases being imported into the Bailiwick from the results received to date.

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‘The team will now be assessing this data as testing on day seven of self-isolation is a possible alternative to introducing unrestricted travel if the circumstances in the UK do not make this a viable, safe option.’

The expectation is that the next big turning point on borders will happen in the Autumn, although a lot will depend on factors outside of Guernsey’s control, such as whether the UK has contained its community transmission.

Deputy Gavin St Pier, the chair of the Civil Contingencies Authority, explained that different strategies are being assessed.

‘Our hope is that soon, but not before the beginning of September, we will be able to reintroduce travel to the UK, and bring back the ‘A and B’ country approach that was in place before we locked down possibly with post arrival testing and/or shorter periods of isolation.

‘And importantly we will need to further increase our on-island testing capability to cope with the much larger numbers of arrivals we would expect, as unrestricted travel will still involve mitigations such as one, possibly two tests, for arrivals as part of the ‘test and trace’ which has been a major success in our response so far.’

Helen Bowditch

By Helen Bowditch
News reporter

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