This is what I said at the press briefing on 23rd March.
At our last press conference on Friday we advised that we had an additional positive case. Since then, the number of positives have risen to 20. I can understand why people may feel anxious about this – a ten fold increase in 2 days. But really this needs to be looked at in context.
Firstly, the good news is we are picking up cases because of the advice provided by the Director of Public Health. It is because of her advice that we moved high risk areas into Group A early on and then the Rest of the World this time last week. Had we not done so, we would not have been able to pick those cases up and we would have had considerable community seeding a fortnight ago. This approach has been more cautious than any of our nearest neighbours and, to date, unlike our nearest neighbours there is no evidence of community seeding taking place.
We also need to understand that the increase is not due to lots of individual cases but clusters. So, [x] cases link to[x] clusters. These have been picked up by Public Health and contact tracing has been undertaken from the moment they were identified on Friday through the weekend. And on that, we have increased man and woman power to enable tracing to be expedited as quickly as possible.
So, amazing work being done by our public health team.
But it would be wrong to make out its fine and it will all go away. We know that at some point we will have community seeding. We are not unique in this world to think we will be able to escape the the spread of this virus. The strategy is not about keeping it out, but slowing the spread, protecting the vulnerable and so flattening the curve of cases and minimising its impact.
And we can minimise its impact by working together, listening and supporting the public health messages. Those messages will make the difference between life and death and we all as a community need to support each other to abide by those messages.
If we don’t, based on all we have seen coming out of China, Italy and Spain in particular, our health service will be completely overrun and people will die unnecessarily.
But, at the same time a load of work has been done in the last week by Health & Social Care to increase our preparedness.
Amongst those measures are the suspension of non-urgent out-patient appointments at the PEH Campus and MSG from today. All those impacted will be advised and if telephone appointments can be arranged, they will be.
Unfortunately, despite requests to minimise contact with in-patients at the PEH, we have had to suspend all visits other than to those on Loveridge & Frossard Wards and patients receiving end of life care. Those wishing to visit these patients should contact the ward manager in advance. The same arrangements will take place at the Mignot Memorial in Alderney. The number of entrances to the PEH will be reduced in order that flow can be controlled and there will be more information on that shortly.
And finally, work was completed this week to convert the Day Patient Unit into a ‘hot’ ICU ward for those people with COVID-19 and will be accessed directly from the Emergency Department. All these measures follow the HSC and MSG contingency plans and more changes will be announced in the days ahead.
Everyone in health and care, both HSC and its partners are stepping up to the plate right now and we need the community to work with us, to listen and abide to public health messages, if we are able to manage this crisis in a controlled and manageable way.
We can do this but we can only do this together.