Islands back into lockdown

MORE than 30 cases of coronavirus have been uncovered in Guernsey, sparking a second lockdown.

The Director of Public Health has closed schools, colleges and early years providers – pre-schools, nurseries and child-minders – to all students for the next two days, and most islanders must work from home.

Islanders should leave their homes only for set reasons, such as essential healthcare, essential shopping and two hours of daily exercise.

Only essential workers should go to work and a payroll co-funding scheme for people unable to work is being drawn up this week. That should be in place next week.

The first four second wave cases, from unconnected individuals with no recent travel history, were discovered late on Friday, after the three adults and a teenager became symptomatic.

Weekend testing first uncovered six more people through contact tracing and another case in the community. Testing continued through the night on Saturday, with 20 more cases revealed on Sunday, of which 19 were found through contact tracing. This gives a total of 31 cases, of which six are potentially from community seeding. There is a mixture of symptomatic and asymptomatic cases. It is still not known if any of the cases involve the new Kent variant.

Chair of the Civil Contingencies Authority Deputy Peter Ferbrache. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29156164)

Director of Public Health Dr Nicola Brink confirmed that the individuals ranged in age from very young children to older individuals, and two were in hospital. There are no cases in care homes.

‘At this time we really do need to be careful about maintaining that social distancing, about hand hygiene and come forward and get tested if you have symptoms,’ she said.

She warned that it was highly likely more cases would be identified.

Year 8 pupils at St Sampson’s High were tested over the weekend and Public Health has also identified Hautes Capelles as a school of interest.

The original source of the outbreak has still not been found, but the clusters are being linked by contact tracers. Testing has been enhanced, so over 1,000 people can be swabbed a day and Dr Brink reassured islanders that there were good stocks of resources for testing.

‘We are always looking to make sure we have sufficient stocks,’ she said.

The clinical helpline has been swamped with calls. On Saturday they took 240 calls. On a normal weekday they normally get 30.

Beau Sejour’s new vaccination hub opened earlier than planned – on Saturday –and vaccinations will continue there this week as planned, as there are hygiene measures and social distancing in place. More on Pages 2-6 & 8

Guernsey Press comment: Islands must unite to beat virus

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