We are addressing you today because we’re concerned that COVID-19 is spreading in the Island at a rate which could be slowed down by better adherence to our current public health guidelines.
We are a small Island and we are all connected.
We share acquaintances and mutual friends; we share connections through work, through our families and through our individual behaviour.
Whether those connections are made from buying milk at the local shop; dropping off children at school and stopping to chat to other parents; sharing an after-work drink with colleagues; meeting friends on a Saturday night; or catching up with grandparents on a Sunday - the spread of COVID-19 thrives on these connections.
Its spread is heavily dependent on our social nature and our daily habits and routines.
We understand it is hard to ask you to distance from the lifestyles we are so accustomed to and lucky to enjoy, and to maintain distance from those we love and care about.
But it is distance which will hold us together through this challenging time.
If we are forced into a lockdown scenario, we force ourselves apart. We become isolated from each other, our social connections are broken, and our way of life stops.
We do not want this to happen. We can stay connected, but we can also stay safe.
We stay safe by staying at least 1 metre apart from anyone we do not live with. In fact, if we can stay 2 metres apart then this is even safer.
We stay safe by limiting the number of people we gather and socialise with and even safer if we keep a record of who those people are and keep them as consistent as possible.
Now is the time we are asking you to react. React now that COVID-19 is spreading in our community.
We announced the updated COVID Strategy for winter on Monday, which outlines how we plan to deal with an increase in cases.
We are enhancing our testing capacity to proactively find positive cases in the community. And we will find them. It’s important we do and that we isolate them to break that connection that the virus thrives on.
For the moment, we currently have no COVID-19 patients in the Hospital, but should that change, we are well-prepared.
Our objective this winter is to continue with planned health care activity as safely as possible and maintain our general and specialist services in healthcare.
Should we need to divert our health resources to fight COVID-19, we have ensured we have the available organisational capacity, staffing, and infection control management in place to deal with any escalation of cases in the Hospital.
In order to do that, we have already undertaken the following measures:
We have completed an organisational-wide review from our previous experience of COVID-19 and built the learning into our operational plans for our winter response across all our departments.
We have established a daily Operational Hub of senior managers to address safety issues, patient activity and flow, Infection Protection and Control measures, supporting the workforce, and to quickly respond to any emerging changes in guidance and policy relating to COVID-19 measures.
We have increased the use of PPE, specifically the use of face masks, across all our Health and Community Services buildings to help protect patients and colleagues.
Proactive measures are in place to ensure patient flow throughout the Hospital is aimed at reducing lengths of stay, delayed transfers of care and re-admissions.
We have ensured COVID-19 preparedness for any resurgence in hospital admissions, including planning for the possible opening of the Nightingale Wing should it be required.
It will remain safe for patients to come into the hospital or their GP surgeries for non-Covid-related treatments.
By increasing the flu vaccination rates across our health and social care staff and the general public, we will help protect the respiratory health of all Islanders. So far, almost 1,500 frontline health staff and 37,000 Islanders have been vaccinated in record time which is good news.
This level of planning means that we are not only well-prepared for any increase in COVID-19 cases, but that the Hospital is a safe place for Islanders to continue receiving the care and treatment they need.
We will continue to see an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, but what we do not want to see is an increase in clusters and outbreaks.
Knowing the patterns of cases is fundamental to the level of action the Government will need to take to protect the public, this includes introducing mandatory requirements by law.
We are bordering the line that leads to a rise in those concerning case patterns Dr Muscat has illustrated. We can hold this line if we all react now.
Please think about protecting our Island and preventing the virus spreading in every decision you take.
Act responsibly. Act with a shared purpose to protect our community. Act to make positive impact and help bring Jersey through this pandemic.