Mon. Nov 23rd, 2020

Isle of Wight Observer News

The Island's Free Newspaper

‘One of the safest areas in the country’

2 min read

Although the number of cases of Covid-19 has swelled to 770, with 106 confirmed in the last seven days, including 11 cases in schools, the Island remains one of the safest areas in the country, according to the Island’s Director of Public Health, Simon Bryant.

The Isle of Wight now has an infection rate of 74.8 per 100,000 residents which, although it has increased from 3.1 per 100,000 at the start of September, remains one of the lowest in the country, and the national test and trace scheme, which many health experts say is failing and needs radical reform, has been working well for the Island, according to Mr Bryant, although a local system is currently being set up.

Mr Bryant was speaking after a meeting of the Local Outbreak Engagement Board (LOEB) held  on thursday 12th Nov. and his message was echoed by deputy council leader Stuart Hutchinson, who added that he wanted to thank Islanders for the way in which they had responded to the second national lockdown.

Regarding the outbreaks in Island schools, Mr Bryant said that all cases had been managed extremely well, with schools responding very quickly.

Councillor Paul Brading, cabinet member for education, thanked schools for the professional way they had dealt with the issues and said: “I’m pleased that virtual learning has been provided for those who need it. I wish everyone affected a speedy recovery. Fortunately the effect of this virus on younger people is usually only very minor. I fully support the government’s position that the schools should remain open.”

There are currently 403 pupils in self-isolation and 16 staff, representing 2.5 per cent of the school population.

Mr Bryant said he was looking forward to a vaccine becoming available but stressed the importance of Islanders taking precautions including hand washing, mask wearing and social distancing throughout the current lockdown and beyond. He confirmed that there have been no recent cases in Island care homes. Both he and Cllr Hutchinson said they would be happy to be vaccinated themselves.

However, a note of caution about low levels of infection was sounded by director of public health in East Sussex, Darrell Gale, the area with the lowest rate in the country. He said: “The warning is that with low rates of incidence we have low rates of immunity. That essentially means if there is significant infection brought into the county – by our residents or by people visiting the county – the only way would be up.”

The Island now has six Covid support officers, all council staff deployed from other duties. They have now been trained and will be offering reassurance for the community and acting as a source of information on staying safe and protecting the Island during the pandemic.

All information correct as of 13th November