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Two cases of COVID-19 'may be circulating in community'

Two new cases of Covid-19 identified on Island indicates the virus is circulating within the community.

A government statement released this morning reads:

"Two new cases of COVID-19 have been detected in the Isle of Man.  As yet, no source of transmission has been identified, however the two travel related clusters announced on New Year’s Eve and Tuesday 5 January, are the most likely cause.  Contact tracing continues. This means that, despite efforts to contain the spread, the COVID-19 virus may be circulating in the community.

The first case is a pupil at St Mary’s Primary School in Douglas. They attended school on Tuesday and Wednesday. They had no signs or symptoms of the virus, which was identified from a pre-admission screening test ahead of a medical procedure.  The child and other members of their household are now self-isolating for 14 days.  Other members of the household were offered rapid testing last night and the results came back negative. The family will be offered further testing before release from self-isolation.  No further secondary transmission has been identified so far but there is a chance that the child may have been positive whilst at school on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The school’s headteacher has been informed and the contact details of pupils as well as the teaching and support staff potentially affected have been passed to the COVID-111 service.  Calls to those affected have commenced and will continue through the day.  Everyone who attends or works at St Mary’s Primary School should self-isolate today, along with other members of their household.  This is a precaution whilst the COVID-111 team contacts those potentially affected.  Those who attend or work at the school are asked not to contact COVID-111.  All contacts should have been reached today.  Any household with someone who attends or works at the school who has not heard from the COVID-111 team by the end of the day today can leave self-isolation tomorrow.

The second case is an individual who developed symptoms and contacted the COVID-111 service for advice and to arrange a test.  They are now self-isolating for 14 days.  The other household members were offered rapid testing last night and the results came back negative.  They are self-isolating along with the confirmed case and will be offered further testing.

Chief Minister, Howard Quayle MHK, said: “Although there were encouraging signs that we may have contained the virus and prevented community spread, we knew it was early days and that we were far from out of the woods.  Sadly, what the Island has worked so hard to avoid, may have come to pass.  The case involving St Mary’s Primary School in particular will cause understandable concern for pupils, parents and staff, as well as the wider public.  The Council of Ministers met late last night and again this morning and will continue to review as more information becomes available.  Members of Tynwald were briefing early this morning.”

“I would ask the public to remain calm.  I will hold a COVID-19 briefing this afternoon to provide an update on developments.”

Director of Public Health, Dr Henrietta Ewart, said: “The risk posed to children by COVID-19 is, generally, low.  The majority of children who catch the virus tend to experience no symptoms or very mild ones.  But they can spread the virus.

“The most important action people can take is to help stop the chain of transmission.  Self-isolation and robust contact tracing are critical to these efforts.  But we really need everyone to play their part: scrupulous hand and respiratory hygiene, social distancing, face coverings when outside where possible, but most important of all, if you can, please stay at home.”

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