We’ve been lucky on the Isle of Man, from the first warning signs of an outbreak on New Years’ Eve, we’ve acted quickly and mostly quite sensibly, but what has happened around us?
Just as we’re heading back out of our own Lockdown 2.0, Guernsey is in theirs, with over 80 cases now confirmed in the Bailiwick, meanwhile in the UK, well we’ve all seen the figures, even in the Republic of Ireland things aren’t looking too good either. We’re due to come out of our circuit break lockdown on Monday, with a return to the “new Manx normal”. So we thought now may be a good chance to take a quick look at how our neighbours are managing the pandemic.
This week the UK hit 100,000 officially registered Covid deaths. Its borders have never properly closed, schools are closed and very unlikely to reopen before March and the economy is in tatters. Around the different devolved governments, the situation doesn’t read much better with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all seeing high numbers of cases. Prof Linda Bauld, public health expert from the University of Edinburgh, said the UK’s current position was the legacy of ‘poor decisions that were taken when we eased restrictions’.
She told the BBC the lack of focus on test and trace and the ‘absolute inability to recognise’ the need to address international travel had also led to a more deadly winter surge.
Prof Sir Michael Marmot, who carried out a review of inequalities in Covid-19 deaths, said the UK had entered the pandemic ‘in a bad state’ with rising health inequality, a slowdown in life expectancy improvements and a lack of investment in the public sector.
In Ireland, the gov has extended the current lockdown into spring and brought in additional restrictions for passengers coming into the country.
The extended restrictions aim to ‘crush’ case numbers, reduce numbers of patients in hospital and ICU, enable a phased reopening of schools and to get more people vaccinated. As of 6.30pm on Tuesday, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre has been informed of 90 additional deaths among people with Covid-19 in Ireland. 89 of these deaths occurred in January, and there is one death where the date of death is under investigation.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 189,851 confirmed cases in Ireland, with 3,066 deaths.
Seen by some as the channel island that got it wrong, Jersey took a different approach to borders than Guernsey- which broadly has had a very similar policy to us here, it has had 3,130 confirmed cases of the virus since the pandemic began and a total of 63 deaths. However, its residents have also lived under far greater restrictions than the Isle of Man and Guernsey. This week it was also announced that the opening of nonessential shops, which were forced to shut on Christmas Eve, has been pushed back. Shops are now due to reopen on 3 February at the earliest. The date for barbers and other close contact providers has moved to 10 February.
Much like ourselves, Guernsey has largely lived in a bubble since early last summer. We were even able to holiday on each others’ island (come back soon Guernsey Man). But also like ourselves, Guernsey has recently had to go into a lockdown. However unlike our rise in cases, which was fairly well contained. The Guernsey Press has reported that cases are continuing to grow with a further 22 confirmed in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of active cases to 84. Prior to that, 10 cases were found on Monday, three of which were from an unknown community source, 45 cases were picked up over the weekend, with four having an unknown community source. The latest Covid figures follow an announcement from the States of Alderney president William Tate that there is ‘significant risk’ of infection in the island’s community, although no known cases of the virus have been confirmed.
Has the Manx gov get everything right when it comes to its Covid response? No.
But, let’s look at where we are, come Monday, we can go to the pub, go into each other’s houses and go back to arguing on Facebook about dog muck instead of bloody masks. This time, let’s just be that little bit more careful though, the gov has learned a lesson about travelling cases and household spread and we’ve all learned how quickly our bubble can be burst.