I’m joined today by the Deputy Medical Officer for Health, Dr Ivan Muscat, who will be answering questions with me later in this Press Conference.
I would like to begin this morning by reporting on the latest covid-19 figures and test results following which I will be providing an update on some of the economic measures that we have deployed to support our local economy together with the latest economic indicators.
There are currently 15 active cases of COVID-19 in Jersey, 6 of which are symptomatic and 9 are asymptomatic. All of those individuals are recovering at home, and none are in the hospital or our care homes.
We have completed a total of 103,938 PCR tests since testing began in March, with a total of 391 confirmed COVID-19 cases in that 6-month period. 73,932 of those tests have been for arriving passengers since we safely reopened our borders on 1 July. Of those results, 53, or 0.07%, were positive for COVID-19.
And, this week, our new on-Island laboratory began processing PCR tests, with results being returned within an average of only 12 hours. This is a continued improvement on our already excellent testing process, for which I sincerely thank Dr Muscat and his colleagues.
What these figures continue to show us is that the situation in Jersey remains stable, even when cases are rising in other areas.
Across the last week Islanders will have received one of the 105,000 Spend Local Cards that have been distributed with £100 of credit to spend with local businesses.
As of this morning, 66,000 cards had been activated, and 26,400 Islanders have already used their cards for one or more purchases. In total £1.8 million has been spent buying goods and services from local businesses since last Wednesday, with £560,000 being spent last Saturday alone.
This is a really positive start to the scheme and I want to thank all of you who have already activated your card and invested in businesses across the Island. If you have received your card but not yet activated it, please can I encourage you to do so as soon as possible. The Spend Local Card scheme only runs until 31st October after which point you will not be able to spend any balance on the card.
If you believe you should have received a card, but have not yet done so, you can request a new card through the gov.je website, or if needed call for support on 44 44 44. Please remember to keep the card, as it might be topped up in the future!
I want to finish by reflecting on the Economic Indicators report that was published this morning.
The number of Islanders Actively Seeking Work has reduced, for the 16th week running, to 1,490 – which is 38% lower than the peak on 29th May of this year. Under Phase Two of the Government Co-Funded Payroll Scheme over £75.6 million had been paid out for a total 13,140 claims from April, May, June, July and August.
55 loans, totalling £3,176,700, have been approved under the Business Disruption Loan Guarantee Scheme; of which £3,053,700 had been drawn down. And public transport usage increased by 25% compared with the previous week.
These are indications of a positive direction for our Island economy, and reflect the resilience and the agility of our local businesses. While we cannot be complacent as we enter the winter period, we should recognise the continued progress.
I will be working with Ministerial colleagues to ensure that we continue to provide the most robust and comprehensive financial and practical support for businesses, across all sectors.
This work will take place alongside the advice from Dr Muscat and his medical colleagues that will ensure Islanders remain safe, and that we continue to control the risk of the virus from spreading in our community.
Businesses have played their part through limiting numbers able to access their premises, recording guest details, maintaining physical distancing, providing hand sanitiser and following public health guidelines. I want to thank them for their continued cooperation but remind them not to relax in any way the measures and the standards they are currently required to maintain.
Please can I encourage all members of the public to continue to be equally as diligent.
Maintain social distancing, wear masks where it is required to do so, do not meet in groups of larger than 20, and follow the strictest personal hygiene habits. This is how we will continue to contain the spread of COVID-19.
If we fail to follow these measures, then we risk an increase in active cases on the Island and risk the possibility of a return to stricter control measures which I know is a position that we all want to avoid.