Masks at the ready

A RETURN to mask-wearing in some indoor public spaces will be urged today, to combat the recent surge in Covid-19 cases.

(Picture By Peter Frankland, 30111552)
(Picture By Peter Frankland, 30111552)

The States will say more on this at a Civil Contingencies Authority press conference at 1pm today, where hospitality, retail and education establishments will be particularly interested in the update.

Dr Nicola Brink, the director of Public Health, told a public hearing of the Scrutiny Management Committee yesterday that the number of active cases had reached the threshold to trigger measures to reduce further transmission.

At this stage, Dr Brink said the emphasis was on mask guidance which relies on the goodwill of the public, rather than a compulsory measure.

‘We want to work with islanders, we’ve had so much help from politicians, Public Health and the community all working together effectively, so we would prefer to make recommendations about interventions.’

Yesterday there were 219 active cases in the Bailiwick, and five people were in hospital. The death of one person who had contracted Covid was also announced.

It is the highest total since early February and the spike is believed to have been caused by the Delta variant of Covid-19.

Today’s press conference is expected to offer advice on where face coverings should be used, focusing on settings where the risk of the virus spreading is higher, such as crowded places or places with poor ventilation.

Dr Brink told the public hearing that she was ‘concerned’ about the increase in transmission, and feared numbers could rise further next week in half-term.

As well as reintroducing masks, Public Health is accelerating the booster vaccination programme and expanded its testing strategy.

Islanders can now pick up free lateral flow test kits on most days from the Covid tent at the end of the Crown Pier.

The kits are also available in Alderney, Sark and Herm from official offices.

It is recommended that islanders do a lateral flow test before they go to a public event where there is likely to be a number of people in close proximity, or when they visit a vulnerable person in a care home.

The vaccination programme, which is seen as the main deterrent to transmission, has now reached young teenagers, and is said to be progressing well.

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