The new lockdown was imposed a mere 17 hours after confirmation of apparent community seeding of the virus.
Dr Nicola Brink, Director of Public Health, detailed the events of the evening before at the States of Guernsey press conference today.
She explained how at at 4.30pm she received a telephone call from the States laboratory from the leadmicro-biologist saying that they had collected four separate potential positive cases in the afternoon testing run – three adults and a teenager.
‘I went up to the laboratory and reviewed the results with the laboratory manager and both of us were concerned about these tests, in that they did look genuine. On top of that we were concerned about the absence of a travel history. So this was an unusual situation for us.
‘The Community Sampling team went out to these four individuals homes, while they were isolating and we re-sampled and re-tested urgently.’
By 7.30pm their test results were all confirmed as positive. Tracing teams worked until 1am exploring each of their movement and contact histories.
Dr Brink said:
‘It became apparent to us that none of the four individuals had a travel history, contact with a case or contact with a traveller. So at first sight these really do seem to us to be unexplained, community seeding cases.
‘Our community tracing team is working their way through the process and might find a link to these cases, but at the moment we cannot find an occurant link to those four cases. ‘
While the tracing team track down the four people’s contacts, Dr Brink said they wanted to do far broader testing.
She said would not be surprised if they discovered further positive cases in the community.
Whereas in March last year Public Health could test only 100 people per day, enhanced testing facilities means they can now test 1,000 people per day.
‘We are casting the net widely to see what we have around the places associated with these cases. One person had an association with the Ship and Crown pub and the Crow’s Nest.’
Everyone in those pubs between the 18th-20th January should contact Public Health by email to get tested – please email email@example.com
‘We are contacting the parents of Year 8 at the school of one of the cases to ask them to get tested together with their teachers. That will give us the first idea of what is going on.
She said it would be a ‘short, hard lockdown’ to try and suppress the virus completely.
The life cycle of the virus is two to 14 days so it follows that lockdown will be applied in two week blocks, with reviews taking place regularly.
Deputy Peter Ferbrache, Chief Minister, and Deputy Heidi Soulsby, from the Committee for Health and Social Care, emphasised that the Bailiwick is in a very different place to where it was on March 28th last year.
They now have tried and tested strategies in place to tackle the virus as well has improved medical and testing facilities.
‘Everybody has done this before and knows what to do,’ she said.
Deputy Ferbrache praised retailers, publicans and members of the community who had acted quickly this morning in response to government advice to take precautions. He urged Islanders to heed lockdown guidance, only going out when necessary, observing the two metre social distancing and to wear masks in closed spaces.
‘We should remain that the objective here is to prevent the virus spreading. We should remember that in every single action we do.’
Dr Brink said that although vaccinations would be more complex to administer because of lockdown, she did not anticipate any slowdown in the program.
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