Jersey’s government will not be forced to pursue a coronavirus elimination strategy.
An attempt, by Deputy Jess Perchard, to change the island’s approach to tackling the pandemic failed, after politicians voted in favour of a compromise from the Chief Minister.
Senator John Le Fondré proposed adapting the current delay, contain, shield approach by taking measures to “keep the virus at very low levels” to “ensure the continued control and suppression of the virus in a safe and sustainable way that protects islanders by causing the least overall harm”.
Elimination, as defined by the World Health Organization, is getting cases of the virus in one geographical area down to zero, and then having robust trace, track and isolate plans in place to manage isolated new cases.
The government welcomes the opportunity of this proposition to present and debate the pandemic public health strategy in the States Assembly. The core intent of the proposition is also accepted: to acknowledge that the measures to date have proven effective in suppressing Covid-19, and to require the government to review the strategic options before us at this key moment, with the obligation to publish an updated public health strategy within two weeks.
The Chief Minister’s amendment was approved by 36 votes to six.
A separate amendment from Deputy Kirsten Morel which would oblige the government to keep either the 14-day quarantine or rapid on-site testing for arriving passengers at the airport and harbour, was approved by 42 votes to one.
A third amendment, from Deputy Kevin Pamplin, to ensure the plan also ensures support for people suffering mental health problems as a result of the pandemic, was approved by 35 votes to 3.
The government this week announced plans to routinely test 8,500 essential workers to see if they have Covid-19.
They also confirmed plans to test arriving passengers on the daily Southampton ‘lifeline’ flight were also being worked up. They would be tested on arrival, and allowed to leave quarantine if they were negative, 24 hours later, with a follow up test on day four.