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What will testing look like in Phase 5c?

What will testing look like in Phase 5c?

Friday 28 August 2020

What will testing look like in Phase 5c?

The States of Guernsey is expecting to spend around £4.3million on covid-19 testing during Phase 5c, providing 'self-swab' kits for travellers and upping the island's testing capacity to more than 2,000 per day.

Although no date has been set yet for the move to the next stage of exit from lockdown, the government has forecasted the cost based on the phase lasting for six months.

It includes the price of testing travellers from Group A and Group B on arrival, and testing those from Group B again a week later. All of these tests will be carried out by the passengers themselves with the help of an online portal.

"[Travellers] will book with their normal carrier and once they've done that we will ask them to put their details into a portal on the website, so we can capture some basic demographic information about them," explained Senior Reporting Officer of the project, Richard Evans. "Then, 48 hours before they arrive in Guernsey, we will ask them put their travel details in the same system.

"When they arrive they will be able to use their phone to log in to that website and they will be guided through the testing process."


Pictured: Travellers will be able to access testing information on their phones.

Each testing tube will have a barcode, which travellers will be asked to photograph and upload to the portal, before handing their test in.

Once the results are in - about 24 to 48 hours later - they will be sent as SMS message to confirm whether or not they have the virus.

"It will be as seamless as we can make it," Mr Evans added.

All travellers coming from Group B countries will be given a second testing pack to take with them and will be asked to repeat the process again, seven days after their arrival. They will then need to take their test tubes to a designated drop-off point at the hospital.

Extra support will be available at the ports for those who can't access the online portal.

Included in the predicted cost is a £600,000 capital cost, which covers the setting up of new facilities, extra staff training and new equipment, taking the island's testing capacity to potentially more than 2,000 tests a day.

coronavirus test covid 19

Pictured: Guernsey's testing capacity could rise to more than 2,000 tests a day.

Despite being ordered in July, the new equipment's arrival has been delayed by the manufacturer and it isn't expected to turn up until the end of September.

"In Phase 5c, we are increasing out test, track and trace capability, with additional testing staff and equipment and digital solutions to support our contact tracing," said Director of Public Health, Dr Nicola Brink.

"We still feel it is important that we test arrivals on day seven, as well as when they first arrive, as this will allow us to identify the vast majority of those who may have contacted covid-19 before or during their travel to Guernsey. But the additional mitigations mean we can feel more confident that they do not need to also self-isolate for the entirety of that time as we can use our contract tracers more effectively to locate any contacts and prevent the spread of the virus."

People going through Guernsey's ports may already have noticed the purpose-built testing facilities that are under construction at both the airport and the harbour. These are expected to be completed by 7 September, while works to set up a testing facility for car passengers on the East Arm of North Beach will get underway on Tuesday.

on arrival testing airport

Pictured: Work has already begun to set up an on-arrival testing facility at the airport.

"Phase 5c will make travel a much more viable option for many of us," added Chair of the Civil Contingencies Authority, Deputy Gavin St Pier.

"We have set a tight deadline for the public service to design and deliver a model for Phase 5c that is ready to go, as and when the CCA decides it is right to make the change and that work is nearly complete. But, and it is a very big 'but', the CCA has not yet decided to make that move and has not set any date as to when that should happen.

"We are mindful that Phase 5c does increase the risks of covid-19 returning to our Bailiwick. The mitigations which will be put in place meant that increased risk is as small as it can be, but we must still be confident that it is an acceptable risk before we make any change. That is partly dependent on the situation in jurisdictions around us. At this very moment, these do not show signs of improving.

"But things may change, this pandemic has shown that can happen very quickly, and by having everything ready for Phase 5c, we will be able to respond just as quickly when the time is right."

Any primary school children under the age of 12 will not need to be tested after travelling, unless one of their family members tests positive for the virus.

Travellers can decide not to take any tests, but must then self-isolate for the full 14 day period.

Those who are unable to carry out self-swabs will be referred to the testing team for sampling.


On-arrival testing facility being created at Guernsey Airport

Next phase will bring testing on arrival

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