School children will be screen tested for Covid-19 at home under the gov’s plans to live with the virus.

Chief Minister Howard Quayle announced the new measure in today’s Tynwald sitting when he was asked by Douglas South MHK Claire Christian when the borders open, what mitigation measures are planned to protect against Covid-19: (a) key workers; (b) children who have not yet had two doses of the vaccine; and (c) those who cannot or choose not to be vaccinated?

Mr Quayle said while the border closures had worked mostly well so far, the gov is moving to new measures to monitor the virus in the community.

He said: ‘Ongoing surveillance testing, for example LFDs (Lateral Flow tests) for asymptomatic unvaccinated individuals and wastewater testing will likely be needed long term. Regular screening in secondary schools through LFDs done at home is currently being planned, with an expected start date of June 21 subject to supply arriving on island.

‘The issue of vaccination for children aged one to 15 is contentious due to the delicate balance of risk and benefit given that the risks to young people from Covid-19 are extremely low, notwithstanding the known unknowns around long covid. The main reason for vaccinating that age group is to increase protection for adults.’

The measures, including the testing of school children, were welcomed by Mrs Christian as ‘fantastic’. She made the point that early messaging will be key to reassuring vulnerable people. 

Mr Quayle said that in line with moving to mitigation, people should take responsibility for their own risk from Covid and encouraged people to follow hands, face, space and fresh air. He added that in the event of a future outbreak, surge testing and if needed surge vaccination will be used alongside isolation to contain the virus.

Tynwald has adjourned and will resume at 2.30pm.

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