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"It is reassuring that cases are all closely linked"

Friday 23 October 2020

"It is reassuring that cases are all closely linked"

Public Health is investigating several leads as it tries to establish the source of the current cluster of covid-19 cases, its Director Dr Nicola Brink has confirmed.

Dr Brink said the index case - the first person from this cluster to test positive on Monday night - had "categorically" not been outside of the Bailiwick in the two weeks prior to their test.

"The index case was identified through a pre-travel screen and subsequently we identified three cases through contact tracing," she commented. 

"The fact that it is four cases that are linked together is really important. If we had four cases that were scattered across the island I would be having an entirely different conversation with you because I would be far more concerned about it, but these four cases are clearly linked as a cluster and that being the case is really reassuring."

When they were first tested, all four confirmed cases were asymptomatic. Subsequently, Dr Brink said three had started to show symptoms of the coronavirus. None, however, have required hospital treatment. 

Pictured: The States is holding a media briefing on the current situation at 13:00 today. 

The most "unusual" element to this cluster is that it has not yet been possible to establish with any certainty what the source of it is.

The Bailiwick has had a small number of cases in recent weeks, however those were all from incoming travellers who had gone straight into self-isolation.

"The investigation [into the source of this cluster] is ongoing and when we have more data on it - indeed, if we get the full data on it - we are investigating certain lines of inquiry but we need to be sure before we announce anything," said Dr Brink. 

"There are possibilities that we are looking at, but nothing is confirmed. Whenever we look at these possible origins of infection, the golden thread might lead back and we find the origin, but sometimes investigations go on and we find out ‘it can’t be that’, so we will carry on with the investigation. 

"The reality is we might not find the origin of the infection - it is too early to say anything for sure."

Pictured: Public Health is leading a campaign on good hygiene heading into the winter and the usual seasonal pressures on the health service, such as the flu. 

What is known for certain, Dr Brink said, is that the index case had not acquired the virus outside of the Bailiwick in the last 14 days.  

"The index case definitely hadn’t been outside the Bailiwick in the last 14 days, absolutely categorically, the index case had not travelled in the last 14 days. What we are working out is where they acquired the infection."

To that end, Public Health has tested more than 150 contacts and has almost ticked off everyone on that list. 

Dr Brink said there are reasons for people to feel reassured; the island has a "hugely enhanced on-island testing capacity" compared to the first wave, and the cases so far are being treated as a cluster rather than community transmission. 

"In the first wave we didn’t have a huge testing capacity, so I might have looked at 100 so-called contacts at that stage and have to select 15 for testing," she said.

"The situation that we are in now is entirely different. We have a hugely enhanced testing capacity so if there are 100 contacts, I will test all 100 of them. That is really good because it gives us a really precise management of what is going on.

"It is a cluster of cases at the moment which we are looking at. Obviously we never like to get a positive result, but the fact that it is in a cluster is very reassuring as they are very closely linked together."

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