The Steam Packet has confirmed a UK-based crew member has tested positive for coronavirus.
This comes just days after Chief Minister HQ said that Steam Packet staff would not be given priority for vaccination against the virus.
A spokesman said: ‘The individual, who does not hold a passenger-facing role, had the test whilst off duty and has been placed in immediate isolation.
‘Contact tracing is underway and a handful of colleagues who the individual was in contact with are also self-isolating.
‘The Ben-my-Chree has already undergone an extensive deep clean and is being cleaned and disinfected on a daily basis.
The Steam Packet has clear policies in place for its crew to prevent Covid spread on both its vessels and at its ports.’
In this week’s Keys sitting, Douglas East MHK Chris Robertshaw had asked HQ what provision the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) guidelines make for protecting essential services such as the Steam Packet?
Mr Robertshaw said: ‘Quite rightly, this administration has attached huge importance to closing the borders and keeping the virus out, along with the highly regarded reaction of the local community to make sure that the recent lockdown actually worked. That essentially is the core of this Question in the sense that, in terms of the Steam Packet, two-thirds of its staff live in the UK and one-third live on the Isle of Man, and there is inevitable interaction between those two groups on the ferry itself; completely unavoidable.’
He likened not vaccinated the Steam Packet’s crew to locking the front door of a house and all the windows, but forgetting the back door.
However, HQ said he had such concerns himself so had made an unannounced visit to the Sea Terminal to
HQ added: ‘But also from an engagement point of view, the Director of Public Health, together with the members of the COVID response team, have recently met with the company representatives to discuss the safety plans in respect of the crew of the Steam Packet vessels, particularly with regard to isolation requirements, and as per their risk assessments which sit behind the exemption certificate, the appropriate procedures are in place.
‘Now these discussions will continue to finalise an approach and will be built on the existing informal discussions that occur on a regular basis with members of the COVID response team. They were satisfied with the procedures that the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company had put in place and I hope that reassures the Hon. Member.’