Covid case linked to dance festival

COVID-19 cases in the island have more than doubled in three days as it was announced this weekend that all people involved with this month’s Festival of Dance should self-isolate.

(Picture by Peter Frankland, 29198749)
(Picture by Peter Frankland, 29198749)

Notice quickly followed of a continued closure of island schools, colleges and other education and early years’ settings for the whole of this week.

Known active Covid-19 cases yesterday rose to 231. On Thursday it was 107.

There were 46 new cases found overnight on Saturday, with five patients currently in hospital.

The news comes in the wake of ‘one or more positive cases’ identified at the Festival of Dance, held at Beau Sejour, between 19 and 22 January, by the contact tracing team.

The ensuing response from some of those who attended, which could potentially be in the thousands – 702 dancers alone took part and this does not account for the adults who accompanied them nor the audience members, organisers, staff or media – led Public Health director Dr Nicola Brink to issue an update online.

At 8pm on Saturday she said she and the teams from Public Health, contact tracing, results and the helpline, were still in the office helping to field queries from worried islanders.

‘I am aware that a lot of you may be concerned about the events surrounding the dance festival,’ she said. ‘Now we are asking people who have been to the dance festival between 19 and 22 January to self-isolate [...] as a precaution and to protect our community.

‘That is because we identified a case associated with the dance festival late yesterday evening [29/01].’

The announcement coincided with Education, Sport & Culture’s decision to keep schools closed to enable more time to develop robust plans for a testing system to help settings reopen to the children of critical workers, while ensuring that the risk of spreading the virus was as low as possible.

They advised staff across education and care services would be in contact with the most vulnerable learners.

While distance learning will continue to be made available to school and College of Further Education learners.

Updates followed from the States of Guernsey asking for shoppers to go food shopping alone, where possible, and to maintain social distancing while out and about, such as for their two hours of outdoor exercise, and to recommend wearing face masks.

The Public Health team have asked that unless symptoms develop or they get in touch, the self-isolation period, for those affected by the Festival of Dance event, will end 14 days after the last day of attendance at the festival meaning, for many, only a relatively short period of self-isolation is necessary.

For example the self-isolation for those whose last date of attendance was on 19 January ends today [01/02] at 23:59, adding an extra day for each day of attendance.

Dr Brink said the decision was worthwhile as some of those who attended may just now be becoming particularly infectious and potential spreaders of the virus.

‘Our strategy overall is a lockdown and sitting beneath that is self-isolation, so people who have had a known contact or possible contact to go into self-isolation,’ she said.

‘Now with people attending the dance festival what we’re asking is only those that are symptomatic should come forward for testing, but we’re not asking anyone else to come forward and get tested, we’re asking them to stay in self-isolation.

‘I’d like to thank everyone for working with us, it’s really important to heed that message to stay home, stay safe and if we’ve asked you to self-isolate, please do and follow the rules.’

*Testing is available for those who develop symptoms. In this event, islanders are asked to contact the helpline on 756938 or 756969.

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