Date: 12 March 2020
Director of Public Health advises Islanders to only travel if essential
The Director of Public Health is advising all Guernsey residents to consider avoiding all non- essential travel to and from the Bailiwick. This follows the decision by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to declare a COVID-19 Pandemic. Dr Nicola Brink yesterday informed the States of Guernsey Strategic Coordinating Group that, following analysis of the numbers of confirmed cases worldwide and the evidence of probable community spread, people should be advised not to travel to or from the Bailiwick for non-essential reasons.
Dr Brink said:
‘I am cognisant of the impact that this decision will have on the Bailiwick in terms of both business and personal travel arrangements.
These decisions recognise that for most people coronavirus will be a mild illness, but it can cause severe symptoms in older people or people with health conditions, and has the potential to increase the demands on our public services, especially our Health and Care services, particularly if large numbers of people became ill at once.‘
While this does not mean there are any new restrictions imposed on travel, it is now the Director of Public Health’s clear advice that Islanders and visitors should avoid travelling into and out of the Bailiwick for non-essential reasons with immediate effect.
The Director of Public Health is also advising:
- Businesses need to be ready to change their working practices and implement, for example, home working.
- Businesses or individuals who are expecting visitors to the Islands in the near future is asked to remind them of the measures the Bailiwick has in place to manage the coronavirus and to ask them not to travel if they are unwell with a fever, cough or shortness of breath.
Islanders who are over 80 years of age, or over 65 with underlying health conditions, are asked to consider carefully any travel plans. The Director of Public Health is advising that islanders falling into this category do not travel on cruise ships or take long-distance flights.
The travel advice that was updated earlier this week regarding Group A and B category countries also remains in place:
Group A: Self -Isolation for all returning travellers irrespective of whether they have symptoms or not:
PHS are recommending that any individual should self-isolate, irrespective of symptoms if they have returned from the following areas in the last 14 days:
- Mainland China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau)
- South Korea
- Specific lockdown areas designated by the government of Italy.
- The whole of Italy – (returning since 10 March 2020)
- Costa Adeje Palace Hotel – Tenerife
If you experience symptoms (fever, cough or shortness of breath, no matter how mild) and have returned from the above countries in the last 14 days, then contact the coronavirus helpline on 01481 756938 and 01481 756969, or, if you are feeling very unwell, phone 999 telling the operator of your symptoms and travel history.
Group B: Travellers from other specified countries who have symptoms, even if these are mild:
PHS have updated the guidance as of the 6 March 2020, taking into account the evolving situation globally.
PHS has issued this additional advice for returning travellers from the following countries:
- Hong Kong
- Tenerife (returning since 17 February 2020)
- Germany (returning since 2 March 2020)
- Mainland Spain (returning since 2 March 2020)
- USA (returning since 10 March 2020)
- Switzerland (returning since 10 March 2020)
- Netherlands (returning since 10 March 2020)
If you experience symptoms (fever, cough or shortness of breath, no matter how mild) and have returned from the above countries in the last 14 days, then stay indoors and call the coronavirus helpline on 01481 756938 and 01481 756969, or, if you are feeling very unwell, phone 999 telling the operator of your symptoms and travel history.
New advice for all Islanders with flu-like symptoms
In addition to the advice regarding travel and as an extra layer of caution to protect the local community, Dr Brink is advising anyone who has flu-like symptoms (cough, sore throat, running or blocked nose, muscle pains, fatigue) or a fever needs to self-isolate for the duration of these symptoms AND for 48 hours after the resolution of these symptoms. By asking them to self-isolate it will help reduce the risk of the coronavirus spreading. For clarity, it is not necessary for these people to be tested for COVID-19 in the way that travellers returning from Group A (or Group B countries and exhibiting symptoms) are tested. In these circumstances, if the individual is able to, home working should be considered.
While in many of these cases Islanders will have only a normal cold or flu, it is good infection prevention control whilst the Island is working to ensure it can contain the spread of COVID- 19. Evidence proves that this advice could reduce the potential spread of respiratory illness by 60%.
In response to the announcement of a COVID-19 Pandemic Dr Brink said:
‘With regard to the Bailiwick, we have been preparing for this since early January and we are extremely well prepared and used to managing infections. We have robust measures in place to respond immediately.’
The WHO is concerned by the alarming spread of COVID-19 and expects to see the numbers of cases, affected countries and deaths climb even higher. The WHO have been clear to state that this declaration doesn’t change their assessment of the threat of COVID-19 and doesn’t change their plans to manage, mitigate and contain this threat. This mirrors the reaction of Guernsey’s Director of Public Health to this announcement.
Notes to Media
Issued by: Emma Walton
Tel: 01481 725241