Alf (wearing mask), Henrietta (on Zoom)
Omicron has been all over the news, it’s causing concern
22 individuals have travelled to the island from Southern Africa, all have been contacted and tested. So far so good
New variants have always been a concern. Mutations affect a lot, including the effectiveness of vaccines
We’ve always said that a new variant would be a trigger point to take steps to protect the community
The greatest concern is that it is a ‘vaccine escape’ variant
Covid Response Group (CRG) and CoMin met this morning to examine the evidence and have a chat about measures
Omicron appears to have a large number of mutations which is a concern
CoMin were mindful of a proportionate response. Enter Level 2.
Travel Changes from 4 am on Tuesday 30th November
Two important travel-related policy changes;
- All international travellers who are fully vaccinated arriving from outside the Common Travel Area (CTA) – that is anywhere outside of the UK, Ireland, Jersey and Guernsey – must self-isolate and have a PCR test within 48 hours of arriving in the Isle of Man. They must remain in self-isolation until they have received the result back. If they are not fully vaccinated they will still be required to undergo the 7 day isolation period.
- All travellers from within the Common Travel Area regardless of their vaccination status will have to commit to undertaking a Lateral Flow Test within 12 hours of arrival in the Isle of Man. All arrivals from within the Common Travel Area will be required to make a clear statement as to their intent and understanding of this new testing requirement on their landing form and
Community Changes from 4 am on Tuesday 30th November
Level 2 = Increase in national mitigations.
- Face coverings mandated on public transport and in health and social care settings
- Face coverings expected in retail, lifestyle and in school settings
The programme will be ramped up. Please get your booster.
Leanne: What’s the advice guidance to those who are arriving from outside the common travel area before the new rules take effect?
Alf: Before these rules come into effect we are asking everyone to raise their awareness and to take responsibility with LFTs. Especially with the winter party season approaching, take responsibility and test yourself.
Leanne: How many results from the 22 have had results returned?
Alf: Everyone, but 3 who left the Island
Catherine: On Friday, PCR testing for appointments was scrapped, will this change? And any changes to visiting the hospital and care homes?
Alf: Wear a mask in healthcare settings, more detail to follow from Manx Care in the coming days
Rob: Immediate Isolation for those suspected or confirmed with Omicron? How can you suspect it? And sequencing takes up to 10 days?
Alf: Looking at speeding up the PCR test result programme so analysis will be able to identify the variant. Length of time shouldn’t apply. Anybody who tests positive for this new variant will need to immediately self-isolate and so will their household.
Rob: Expected to wear masks in schools. Why hasn’t it been mandated? The age group with the largest number of cases?
Alf: We want to work with the community to make sure they take the right levels of precaution. Julie Edge will be on the radio tomorrow.
Full legal enforcement is a last resort. Today’s messaging is about raising awareness.
Work to do with business and schools to make sure everyone is mitigating as much as possible.
Rob: LFT’s for CTA arrivals, how will you make sure people are sticking to the rules?
Alf: People will declare on their landing forms that they will follow the guidance. There is an element of trust, if trust is broken we will seek remedial measures.
Rob: How long will it take to get the tracking system in place?
Alf: Enhanced landing forms ready for Tuesday. The system will follow in a few days.
Rob: Booster vaccine missed appointments are high. Will you open up to more age groups to boost protection?
Henrietta: All being considered by JCVI. Think we’ll see updated guidance.
Leanne: Can Dr Henrietta give us a summary of the new variant?
Henrietta: More known unknowns than actual knowns. Has about 52 mutations, 32 of which are on the spike protein. That’s the bit that gets in and infects cells. And that’s the bit the vaccine attacks.
The speed with which it is taking off is also concerning, we think people who had Delta are now being infected with Omicron. But we don’t know for sure.
All reasons why we are concerned and taking action. It will get through just as previous variants haven’t but we need to slow it and buy time.
Alf: What will we expect from JCVI in the next few days?
Henrietta: Vaccines will still be useful. Boosters will help. Please come forward and have your booster as soon as you are invited.
Expect to see guidance on extending boosters to younger age groups.
Catherine: What is the likelihood that it is already here?
Henrietta: Tough to say, it will get here eventually.
All details will be published in the next few hours and days or so.
Don’t forget your face coverings on Tuesday morning. Mandated for travel and expected in indoor public settings.
Like the UK, we won’t be insisting on further messages in hospitality.
Measures are proportionate, realistic and targeted.
Let’s work together as a community to mitigate against the spread.
Prepared to go further, if needs be.
GET YOUR BOOSTER
LFT, LFT, LFT
Thanks for listening
This coverage is not intended to be a verbatim transcript and should not be treated as such, you can listen to the full briefing here.