Health Minister Defends Use Of Rapid Flow Tests

The Health Minister says the rapid flow coronavirus tests ‘have a use in the right context’ following reports in the UK of a high-rate of false negatives.

Those tests, which have a turnaround time of around 30 minutes, are being offered to staff and students in Jersey secondary schools.

They were used in Liverpool to detect asymptomatic cases in November, but research found that it failed to find 60% of positive cases.

Deputy Geoff Southern says he’s concerned that students and staff could test negative but have the virus.

But Deputy Richard Renouf says the voluntary PCR tests taken at the beginning of term showed only small amounts of infection.

“The antigen testing had been recommended for monitoring that situation, so we would be able to tell by any positives that arise whether or not the rate of transmission, the increase in numbers, presented a risk and then take further mitigating factors should that situation present itself.”

Any rapid flow tests that come back positive have to be backed up by a PCR swab.

It’s still not known exactly what percentage of staff and students in Jersey volunteered to get a PCR test before term started last week.

Channel 103 asked the Acting Education Minister Deputy Jeremy Macon last week, who said he was seeking the same information.

When asked in the States Assembly this afternoon, Deputy Renouf said he didn’t have those details.

It was reported to be a rate, among students, of around 50%. That has not been confirmed.

The PCR swabs took place between 1 January and 10 January. The government says 1900 members of staff and 1500 students got a test.

There were fewer than ten positive cases recorded.

Deputy Renouf says he’s hopeful that more will agree to get tested now the rapid flow tests are being offered in secondary schools.

Two more schoolchildren have tested positive since last Friday 15 January – one who goes to Grainville and one who attends Plat Douet.

Channel 103 News

Masks To Be Worn At School Pickup

Parents are being told to wear a mask when dropping off and collecting their children from school in Jersey from today.

The Education department guidance has changed to say that ‘all adult visitors to any school setting should wear a mouth and nose covering, this includes when dropping off and collecting children.’

Headteachers have emailed families asking all adults approaching a school to have a mask on.

The advice has been updated on the Government of Jersey website.

Parents have been asked to share the information with any family members that pick up their children.

Secondary school staff and students in years 11, 12, and 13 have been advised to wear masks in school since November. 

The guidance was extended to staff at all schools and all secondary school pupils in December.

The wearing of masks in shops and enclosed indoor spaces in Jersey was made mandatory on 1 December 2020.

Channel 103 News

Pass ‘Life In Jersey Test’ To Stand For Election?

A St Helier politician has proposed creating a ‘Life in Jersey’ certificate to prove a non-British citizen’s commitment to the island rather than the UK.

Deputy Inna Gardiner says anyone who passes it should then become eligible to stand for election as a States member.

She says there are many reasons why someone might not want to apply for British citizenship, and this provides another option.

The British-Israeli, who was born in Kazakhstan, says passing the ‘Life in Jersey’ test would prove their knowledge of Jersey’s customs, traditions, and day-to-day life.

Another part of the test would be taking the oath in the Royal Court for allegiance to the island of Jersey, which Deputy Gardiner says will show that they would swear an allegiance to uphold those traditions.

She has also suggested the certificate be introduced in schools, given that 16 years olds can vote, which may encourage the younger generation to get involved in politics earlier.

“In summary the Certificate will provide a simple, straightforward route for an individual to show a willingness to understand the Island’s identity and confirmation of their allegiance to supporting and maintaining it.

“The importance of diversity and inclusion in any Parliament cannot be understated – no more so than in Jersey where the population includes a variety of ethnic groups. The Certificate will allow a wider selection of candidates to stand for election which can only be of benefit.”

If approved, the Council of Ministers would have to introduce the new test, based on the existing Jersey aspect of the British Citizenship test, by October 2021, along with an appropriate oath or affirmation for the allegiance to the island of Jersey.

Deputy Montfort Tadier lodged a proposition last year to try and remove the requirement that Senators and Deputies must be British Citizens. It was rejected by a single vote.

The assembly ended up making the rules around standing for election even stricter.

Channel 103 News

Jersey Preparing To Host CI Pride In September

This year’s Channel Islands Pride will be held in Jersey to honour the anniversary of 9/11, if it can be done safely.

Guernsey was the only place in the British Isles to physically host the event last year because of the pandemic – and it’s hoped that Jersey will be in a good enough place health-wise to host the event on 11 September.

This year’s theme, ‘Reflect and Celebrate’, will also look back on the ongoing struggles faced by the LGBTQ plus and non-white communities across the world.

Organisers want to stream the event on social media, YouTube, and a large screen in Guernsey so everyone can take part.

“We hope that Channel Islands Pride 2021 will build on the huge success our colleagues in Guernsey had last year, and that the celebrations will not only attract members of our pan-Island community, but will draw visitors to Jersey to celebrate in our relaxed and beautiful Island – supporting the hospitality sector as it recovers from the impact of the pandemic. 

“We will, of course, be closely following any Government COVID-19 guidance given at the time about public events, and Pride will only go ahead if we are absolutely assured that it can do so safely. We will be submitting full plans to the Bailiff’s Events Panel shortly, to seek their permission and guidance.” – Christian May, Director of Channel Islands Pride 2021.

Plans for this year’s show include more music and performers, a new Exhibition Section, a second Community Stage, and a Health and Community zone.

Channel 103 News

Vaccine Details For Over 70s Revealed

Islanders aged 75 to 79 will be able to book a vaccine appointment from Monday 25 January.

Vaccines for this age group will begin on Saturday 30 January.

High-risk islanders, including those aged 70 to 74, will get a letter next week to confirm they can book an appointment from 1 February.

Vaccine appointments for these groups will be available from Saturday 6 February.

High-risk islanders eligible for a vaccine from that date include those with Down’s Syndrome and those with stage five kidney disease.

Anyone who thinks they are high-risk but doesn’t hear from their GP about getting an appointment is asked to contact their GP surgery for advice.

“We are making great progress with our vaccination programme, and it’s fantastic news that we’re now at the stage where we can shortly invite high-risk Islanders to book their vaccination appointment.

“I would like to reassure everyone that Fort Regent is a clinical setting and meets the required hygiene standards. I would also like to encourage all Islanders in this category to book these slots as soon as possible and to attend their appointments to protect them.

“We understand there might be certain level of anxiety for some high-risk Islanders around going out in public, we have worked hard to ensure our centre meets infection control and prevention measures, and our support marshals are there to help and will be making sure everyone complies with current COVID-19 guidelines.” – Becky Sherrington, Vaccine Programme Lead.

The person’s name, address, contact details, social security number and date of birth needs to be shared to book an appointment.

“Islanders who are high risk should have already received communication from their GPs or specialist doctors explaining their risk throughout the pandemic. Those who haven’t received any correspondence from their GP or specialist doctor but believe they are in the category should contact their GP surgery for advice and an assessment. 

“This is very encouraging news that Islanders at high-risk will be able to receive their first doses of the vaccine. I am aware that some Islanders at high-risk regarding COVID-19 will have been shielding for many months now, so receiving the vaccine will help them get back to a sense of normality that has been long overdue.

“Officers and medics across Government have worked tirelessly to ensure the vaccine programme is delivered as effectively as possible. This is another important step in the Island’s response to COVID-19 and we need an Island-wide effort to protect the most vulnerable in our community.” – Deputy Richard Renouf, Health Minister.

Anyone without internet access to book an appointment can get it sorted through their parishes and by calling the coronavirus helpline on 445566.

Home visits for over 80s who can’t get up to Fort Regent started today.

The last update on vaccine uptake was released last week. As of Sunday 10 January – 3,590 had received their first dose, with 1,306 getting both.

The government says vaccine numbers are released on a weekly basis to give analysts more time and resources to ‘detail the confirmed vaccinations’.

Vaccine uptake across the UK is updated every day. Four million people there have received their first dose, with over 70s in England getting invites to get their jab from today.

Two Jersey school students have tested positive for coronavirus.

One goes to Grainville and the other attends Plat Douet.

They’re the first cases confirmed since schools reopened a week ago.

Another case of coronavirus has been detected in a Jersey care home.

The number of active cases in the island has fallen though – down to 225.

23 people have recovered in the last 24 hour period, with seven new cases found.

Six people are still being treated in hospital.

Channel 103 News

Victims And Witnesses Promised Better Support

Victims First Jersey is being launched, along with a Victim and Witness Charter – setting out the standards of care they can expect.

Victims and witnesses of crime in Jersey are being promised more support.

The charter will be used by support workers to explain the process ahead for victims and witnesses of crime in Jersey.

It’s available online, and an animated video has been made for youngsters.

The Attorney General Mark Temple QC has called it a hugely important tool:

“As well as outlining the process that islanders will be taken through, the charter also details how any complaints about this process should be dealt with, another key factor in ensuring victims and their wellbeing is prioritised.”

The charter is supported by States of Jersey Police, the Law Officers’ Department, the Judicial Greffe, the Viscount’s Department, the States of Jersey Prison Service, the Probation and Aftercare Service, Justice and Home Affairs and the Honorary Police.

Additionally, Victims First Jersey is a new service to provide emotional and practical support.

The service is staffed by victim care co-ordinators and volunteers, and support is provided whether or not there is police involvement.

“Innocent victims and witnesses of crime deserve the upmost care and support through the events following the crime that has affected them. The main focus should always be to catch and bring perpetrators to justice, but we must not forget about those who are affected by these crimes, sometimes catastrophically.”  – Home Affairs Minister, Constable Len Norman.

Channel 103 News

Islanders Back ‘Freddie’s Law’

More than 2,600 people have signed an online petition calling for better protection for vulnerable road users.

The petition calls for the law to be changed after a teenage cyclist was seriously injured on Jersey’s roads.

Mum Joanna Dentskevich wants ‘Freddie’s Law’ to better protect road users and to ensure that in future similar circumstances, motorists can be prosecuted.

Her 14 year old son Freddie was struck last March, knocked off his bike, and left unconscious on the side of the road.

He suffered two fractures to his arm, lost two teeth, needed stitches around his eye and an operation on his knee.

The driver, who did not stop at the scene, has not been charged with any offence.

Law Officers said there was no realistic prospect of a conviction.

Joanna and her family went public with what happened to Freddie in the hope it will bring about a change in legislation.

Her petition says:

The driver drove on and later used a little known loophole in the law to evade justice.

This is just one example of a long history of road traffic collisions where, under the current Jersey law, the vulnerable road user has had little to no protection which often allows perpetrators to avoid any accountability and continue to drive carefree on our island roads. This loophole also undermines the abilities of the Police to conduct proper investigations. The States Assembly should urgently commission a review of the Laws governing the rights and protections of all vulnerable road users with a view to making it safer to cycle, walk and horse ride on Jersey’s roads.”

Since the petition went live last Thursday, it has been signed more than 2,600 times and Joanna says she has been overwhelmed with the response:

“I have had handwritten letters, I have had texts, emails.. Freddie is not alone.  This has happened to a lot of people,  and it also seems that sometimes even when there are witnesses they (drivers) don’t seem to be prosecuted as well.  So it really does call for a debate by States Members as to what needs to be changed to stop this happening.

From what happened to Freddie, it was the worst phone call you can get as a parent. But if one thing comes out of this – if we can change this and just stop this happening in the future, it has to be the best that can come from this situation.” 

Ministers are now required to respond to the petition because it has exceeded 1,000 signatures, but the Dentskevich family wants it to get to 5,000 so it is considered for a States Assembly debate.

Channel 103 News

Café Ubé To Open At Harbour

JPRestaurants – owners of the Crab Shack, Oyster Box and Banjo  –  has been chosen to operate a new café at the St Helier harbour.

Ports of Jersey has signed a two year deal for Café Ubé to open at the Elizabeth Terminal in the former Shipyard restaurant.

It will initially offer a hot and cold ‘grab and go’ selections similar to at the airport, but might extend to table service and more substantial dishes when traveller numbers pick up.

The café plans to open at Easter and will offer a ‘click & collect’ service so that passengers can order refreshments ahead of travelling

JPRestaurants has provided the Café Ubé provision at Jersey Airport since July 2020 on an initial 9-month lease, which has recently been extended until the end of 2023.

The Shipyard Restaurant was formerly operated by UK owned operator, Casual Dining Group, which went in administration last year as a result of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on many businesses.

It had opened in July 2019, five and half years after the previous harbour restaurant closed.  It closed in March 2020 because of lockdown restrictions and never reopened.

Channel 103 News

Overdale Services Set To Move To Old Les Quennevais School

Health services at Overdale are due to be moved to the old Les Quennevais school building as part of the plan for building Jersey’s new hospital.

Overdale was chosen as the preferred site choice last November, which was then approved by the States Assembly.

Work to upgrade and refit the old school building is due to start this summer, so it can be ready to use from January 2022.

Health Director-General Caroline Landon explains why Les Quennevais was chosen.

“It’s owned by the government, it’s big enough so it can put all of our services in one place so that islanders don’t have to travel round in order to access healthcare, it means our services will only have to move once and all our patient-facing services can remain together.

“There is plenty of parking and we recognise some of the potential challenges that may present around transport, so we are in the process of conducting a full transportation review.

“We are also going to be refitting the building in order to make it fit for purpose to delivering healthcare.”

Other sites to be considered for the decant included Westmount, La Collette, the Parade, and Clinique Pinel.

A planning application will be submitted in March 2021, with the plan to start the decant process in December 2021, ready to open the following month.

When the new hospital opens, the old Les Quennevais School will then be available again for any future developments.

“It is important that we deliver the new hospital on time and it is fully operational by the end of 2026. Even with the short delay in confirming access, those timelines are still within reach, which is why we must keep moving ahead with the project.

“As part of this temporary move, and the wider project, we will be engaging with the community throughout, who will help shape the delivery of the hospital. Moving the current facilities from Overdale is a key stage in the project, and the former Les Quennevais School offers the best solution.” – Senator Lyndon Farnham, Chair of the Our Hospital Project.

Senator Farnham refused to confirm how much the move and refit would cost, only that it would be accounted for within the original cost estimate for building the new hospital.

The States will debate the preferred access route to the new hospital on 9 February.

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Channel 103 News

10 Days Isolation For All New Arrivals

People arriving into Jersey will now have to isolate for at least 10 days, as of midnight tonight.

In response to the highly infectious new variants of COVID-19 being identified around the world, Ministers have agreed to introduce further restrictions at Jersey’s borders.

Anyone arriving in Jersey will now have to follow the regime for countries classified as Red and will have to isolate until they receive a negative PCR test on Day 10.

Guernsey will be reclassified as Amber, rather than Green, as a precautionary measure due to the presence of the UK variant. This will mean travellers from Guernsey will have to isolate until they receive a negative PCR test on Day 5.

These measures will be implemented at 00:01 on Saturday 16 January and will be under regular review.

The Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf said: “These are precautionary measures based on scientific advice which we hope will prevent any new variants from entering the Island community.

“We will not be closing our borders due to our ongoing need to send Islanders to the UK for health reasons and to allow Islanders to return home.

“We are continuing to work with the UK to establish whether Jersey has any new variants, and we will be monitoring the situation closely.

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