On Tuesday the Council announced that positive coronavirus cases have been confirmed on the Isles of Scilly. Understandably, this caused great concern: it is a shock to know definitively that something we have only previously read about in the news is now a reality on island. I of course share your fears, but I also have total confidence in our response teams and the arrangements they have put in place, so I’d like to take this opportunity to reassure you that our existing plans and processes have passed this first real test with flying colours.
I must reiterate that the key messages to the public remain the same:
- There have been confirmed positive COVID-19 cases on the islands.
- The appropriate organisations are actively engaged and have been successfully following established plans and procedures to mitigate the risk of any further spread. This includes communicating directly with all contacts of the affected parties.
- If you have not been contacted, this means that you have not been in close proximity with a known positive case and therefore do not have to take any action beyond following the latest government guidance, which applies nationally.
- The only exception to this is if you are experiencing any 1 of the 3 COVID-19 symptoms (a recent onset of a new continuous cough; a high temperature; or a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell), in which case you need to self-isolate immediately, and arrange for a test straight away.
The quickest route to accessing a test on the Isles of Scilly is to use the local (Devon) route by calling the Isles of Scilly Testing Helpline on 01626 204 950 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If for any reason you would prefer to use the national route, by visiting the government's self-referral testing page or calling 119, please bear in mind that time is a factor when testing for COVID-19 and the national system is currently experiencing considerable delays. The information will reach the relevant local teams, whichever route you choose, so the most important thing is that if you experience symptoms, you self-isolate immediately, get tested straight away and follow the advice you are given. Please remember that if you need to get a test on the Isles of Scilly, you MUST NOT visit the pharmacy, health centre or hospital, as you may inadvertently spread the virus.
We know there is a desire from the public to receive exact case numbers as soon as they are confirmed. We cannot promise this and it’s important to remember that case numbers are not a perfect reflection of the spread of the virus. There will always be cases that we cannot be aware of, either because symptomatic people have not come forward, or because they remain asymptomatic. These are also the reasons we cannot guarantee that the virus has not been on the islands previously and why it is vital that you follow government guidance at all times, regardless of the number of cases. Our approach throughout the pandemic has been to act as if the virus is among us at all times; we will immediately inform you if there is anything you need to do differently. Just to clarify, our Director of Public Health, Rachel Wigglesworth represents the Council of the Isles of Scilly, so it is important to understand that any message issued by the Council (through any of our channels) relating to COVID-19 is a message from both the Council and its Public Health function.
You may have heard Rachel speaking at Thursday’s Health and Wellbeing Board. In this meeting she provided confirmation that there have been 2 positive cases in order to assure the public that the numbers are extremely low at present and have been contained. However, this was an exceptional circumstance and it is unlikely we would be able to release the same level of detail for any potential or confirmed cases going forward.
One thing you may wish to do to help the national response to the pandemic is download the new NHS Test and Trace App. The more people who download and use this app, the more information will be available to help monitor the situation, so please consider doing so. You can download the app from:
- Apple App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/id1520427663
- Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=uk.nhs.covid19
If you have any questions at all relating to coronavirus, don't hesitate to contact us at email@example.com.
In other important news…
Finally, a piece of really good news for the islands this week is that HM Treasury have approved our request for continued financial support for our transport system until the spring of 2021. We are awaiting the confirmation of further details and will release them as soon as we are able to. This news comes as a welcome relief and will enable transport operators and partners to produce much firmer plans for our transport services. We are grateful to government for recognising the pressure we were under in this respect and providing such vital support.
As ever, keep safe and look after each other.
Chairman, Council of the Isles of Scilly