New COVID-19 testing strategy announced
Updated: May 9, 2021
The Government of Jersey's COVID-19 Testing Strategy has been enhanced with a free, extended testing programme launching next month which will target cases in the community.
Alongside the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, which has as at Sunday 25 April, reached 60% of Jersey's adult population (18+) and Jersey's Reconnection Roadmap; the new testing strategy will be integral to controlling transmission to defend vital services and protect vulnerable people.
The new testing strategy covers four core areas of testing:
Active Case Control- To identify and isolate positive cases, stop clusters and control outbreaks (Symptomatic individuals and those in contact with positive cases)
Safe Places- To protect vulnerable and enclosed populations, preserving vital services (Screening for people in frontline services and enclosed communities e.g. care homes)
Community Testing- Workforce screening, with an increase in testing in people’s workplaces
Travel- To safely manage our borders
The new COVID-19 Community Testing Programme offers more convenient, fast, and user-friendly access to testing.
Next month, free Lateral Flow Tests (LFT) kits will be available for all staff within businesses which fall under the following sectors, following registration to the new LFT Programme:
Agriculture and fisheries
Wellbeing, cosmetic and beauty
Public transport, freight, postal and delivery services
Early Years, including children's social workers
Vital services including the States of Jersey Police, Jersey Fire and Rescue, Family Nursing and Home Care, GPs, Ambulance service, Health and Community staff, care home staff and dentists are also protected with a new, peer-to-peer testing regime which offers accurate, lab based test results to ensure the continuation of public safety and service provision.
Testing programmes will remain in place for border testing controls and active case control for those with symptoms and direct contacts of positive cases
The Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré said: "We have made good progress with the Vaccination Programme, but this was never designed to be a stand-alone measure. The presence of variants of concern and their global reach, remains under close observation.
"As Jersey prepares to enter Stage 6 of the Reconnection Roadmap on 10 May, and the Vaccination Programme prepares to open to the next cohort of under 40s, we look forward to enjoying a summer of freedom compared to the restrictions we have followed.
"Due to these increased freedoms, it is vital that any potential spread in the community is limited and controlled. The way to achieve this, is through regular, widespread testing."
The new testing strategy will help to keep the borders open, protect businesses from potential outbreaks and closures and act as a core measure in controlling COVID-19 into the rest of 2021.
Deputy Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ivan Muscat said: "Testing and diagnosis remain an extremely important measure to avoid uncontrolled spread of virus while we continue to learn and understand how to best respond, treat, and manage COVID-19 in both the short and the long term.
"At least 30% of COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic. And patients who go onto to be symptomatic can also transmit infection before they develop symptoms.
"Active case finding is a vital tool in the management of all infections and therefore features strongly in Jersey's defence against COVID. Early detection of positive cases to avoid asymptomatic, community transmission which might otherwise go undetected and lead to outbreaks is essential. Just because one person might present as asymptomatic doesn't mean that those they infect will not develop significant disease.
"Of course, we have the Vaccination Programme which is also hugely important in our fight against COVID. It offers those fully vaccinated an 80-90% chance in avoiding serious illness or death, but we are still learning about the positivity rates and transmission in fully vaccinated individuals.
"The latest evidence looks promising, but as in all other infections it is far better to adopt a multi-layered response, particularly when we are still learning about an infection, when immunity is still being gained and when emerging variants pose a continuing threat."
A campaign will be launched next month to encourage eligible businesses to register onto the LFT Community Testing programme.
The Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf said: "We want to keep Islanders safe and maintain the freedoms we have started to enjoy. Diagnosis is a vital element in health care and COVID-19 is no different. Without diagnosis, it would be impossible to establish any potential impact of this virus on our health and wellbeing.
"Increasing the frequency and reach of testing will sit alongside the continuation of the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme and other public health measures, as the core preventative actions which support resuming normal activities."
Eligible businesses will be able to find out more information about the Community Testing programme and register online next week. In the meantime, the current workforce testing strategy remains.
Anyone with COVID symptoms should immediately isolate and request a PCR test by calling the Coronavirus Helpline on 0800 735 5566. Direct contacts will continue to be identified, asked to isolate, and be tested for the virus as part of the Active Case control.