‘The spirit of Guernsey Together saved lives’

TWO members of the team spearheading Guernsey’s response to Covid-19 have spoken poignantly about some of the toughest moments of 2020.

The then president of Health & Social Care Heidi Soulsby, with Director of Public Health Dr Nicola Brink during a media briefing on Coronavirus in May.  	                                  (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 28901547)
The then president of Health & Social Care Heidi Soulsby, with Director of Public Health Dr Nicola Brink during a media briefing on Coronavirus in May. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 28901547)

Dr Nicola Brink and Deputy Heidi Soulsby spoke about the devastation of losing islanders to the virus, the momentous decision to go into lockdown and how the community – through the spirit of Guernsey Together – helped save lives and kept spirits up.

Dr Brink is the director of Public Health, while Deputy Soulsby was president of the Health & Social Care committee up until the island’s general election in October. She is now vice-president of Policy & Resources.

Both offered their reflections on the pandemic in an in-depth interview in tomorrow's Guernsey Press.

Deputy Soulsby recalls the run-up to the Civil Contingencies Authority briefing in March where the lockdown, to control the virus, was announced.

‘I felt in a completely different zone. It felt completely surreal. The last thing you want to do is restrict people’s freedoms that’s not what you go into the States for,’ she said.

Later she went home to her husband, and said to him: ‘What have I done?’

‘I had to give him a big hug. But we absolutely knew it was the right thing to do – the information absolutely tells us that if we don’t do this, based on where we are, it will run rampant.’

The result of the lockdown was that within 10 days, as Dr Brink explains, the rate of infection was flattening in Guernsey. But while the death toll could have been higher, the loss of islanders to the virus was devastating for the team.

‘There were some days which were very difficult and I go back to the day we had our first death,’ says Dr Brink.

‘I remember what I was wearing and where I was standing. On that day someone also sent us a nice message. It was a day that we were sitting there feeling really devastated. Just getting some messages of support was really, really helpful.’

Closing care homes to visitors and pregnant women unable to have partners or loved ones with them in hospital were other tough moments, reflects Deputy Soulsby in the interview.

Both are also full of praise for the community, and unsung heroes, saying the spirit of Guernsey Together saved lives.

How Guernsey Together took on Covid-19 will be on Pages 22 & 23 of tomorrow's Guernsey Press.

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