COVID press briefing 30th March 2020

This is what I said at the press briefing on 30th March.

Now I am going to start with a few positive points. Firstly, we have stopped charging for all Emergency Department appointments for anyone presenting with COVID-19 symptoms. No one must be prevented from getting the treatment they need because of cost. However, please do not just turn up to the Emergency Department. It is really important that you telephone through first.

Last Thursday we advised that we had all the testing equipment on island. Since then, a considerable amount of training, commissioning and testing has taken place since its arrival.

This weekend the Pathology team took over the testing for COVID-19 and our samples are no longer going off Island to a specialist laboratory though this remains a backup should it be required.

Thanks to our estates team, infection and prevention control teams, cleaners, procurement and pathology who have facilitated what’s called a ‘Cat III’ laboratory process in weeks that would normally take months. This puts us in a really great place as we can test test test.

Now both Gavin and I visited the PEH on Friday. For me it felt like the eve of battle. Preparations have been made, staff have been trained and the equipment is in place. We are as ready as we possibly can be for what is coming ahead. And our medical director will go into more detail at the moment.

But this will be all for nought if we don’t follow public health advice about STAYING AT HOME.

You should only leave the house for one of four reasons.

  • Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.
  • Up to two hours exercise a day, to include walking, cycling, running or sea swimming or other open sea activities alone or with members of your household. 
  • Any medical need, if instructed to do so by a healthcare worker or required to do so having called 999, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person. 
  • Travelling to and from work where it is essential.

These four reasons are exceptions – even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your household.

It does not mean;

Going shopping together as a couple or going shopping everyday.

Blocking the aisle so no one can keep a distance from you.

Taking a drive around the island – all this is consumes fuel which means you need to fill up sooner and increase risk of more contact.

Driving to a car park and rolling down the window to talk to friends.

Riding your bike with others unless part of your household.

It does mean

  1. Using your 2 hours a day for exercise either by yourself or with your family. It’s been great to see families walking, running and cycling more this last week. The roads are safer with less traffic so this is a perfect time to do it.
  2. Planning your shopping so you can get enough for several days.

And most importantly

Maintaining social distancing and adhering to strict hygiene guidelines – wash your hands for 20 seconds on a frequent basis and follow the adage, ‘catch it, kill it, bin it’.

Now the number of cases are rising, and we are seeing patients being admitted to the PEH with COVID-19. Things are going to get worse before they get better. I was speaking to HSC’s Director of Operations on Saturday when he said, it feels to me like we are at the bottom of the hill.

It is incumbent on each and every one of us to prevent that hill from becoming a mountain. We can do it. But we can only do that together.

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