Could Jersey upgrade to UK and France regional risk ratings?

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The island’s deputy medical officer of health, Dr Ivan Muscat, admitted that a spike in cases in the Saint-Malo region of Brittany is concerning and that a regional approach could be the answer.Spikes were also recorded in parts of northern England, with some restrictions being reintroduced in Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and parts of Lancashire.

Dr Muscat said the latest number of active cases for Saint-Malo – the entry point for the vast majority of islanders heading to mainland Europe by boat – and its surroundings was 23.3 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

France is currently rated on a national basis by Jersey, but that could change as Saint-Malo nears the figure of 25 which is the upper threshold for “green” status in the island’s ratings.

MP Kirsten Morel, who has been one of the politicians scrutinizing the island’s travel policy, agreed that regional assessments should be considered.

“I think we have to do it – one of the concerns is that the government treats countries as a whole and not individual areas. It would be appropriate to treat Saint-Malo as different from the rest of France, as the virus is not spreading equally, ”he said.

MP Morel said a regional approach would mean that islanders could still pass through Saint-Malo to other parts of France that retained green status, and supported a similar approach for England.

“We must remain flexible and have a more precise geographical vision of the areas. Potentially, if there are orange areas in the north, people on a flight from Manchester would be treated differently from a flight from Gatwick.

“It is clear that we cannot have regional assessments for every country in the world, but for our closest neighbors it makes sense. ”

Other areas already have some form of regional assessment in the list with Jersey, Madeira, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands being classified as green while mainland Portugal and Spain are orange.

Passengers arriving from orange zones must spend up to a week in self-isolation and record negative Covid-19 tests on the first and fifth days after entering Jersey.

Dr Muscat said the guidance given to Islanders on Thursday evening regarding the situation in Brittany was aimed at enabling them to make “more informed decisions.”

“If it is a non-essential trip, they can decide not to go, or if they plan to go through Saint-Malo and go to other regions of France, where prices are lower, then they can choose not to spend time in Saint-Malo. before leaving, he said.

“Separating a region from a country is more complex, however – but we have to look at that and fix it. ”

The new directions will not immediately affect the ability of French visitors to travel to Jersey for day trips. A government spokesperson said a total of 56 visitors had taken day trips to the island from Saint-Malo this month and received advice on limiting their social contact.

Jersey’s list of green, amber and red countries is regularly reviewed. Last weekend, mainland Spain was reclassified as orange, while Belgium was one of three countries to be upgraded on Thursday.

Four more changes in country rating were confirmed yesterday, with Monaco moving from green to orange status, while Maldives, Palestine and Suriname were upgraded from amber to red.

European countries are ranked on the basis of active case figures per 100,000 inhabitants in the previous fortnight, as published by the European Center for Disease Control. The UK national figure fell slightly this week from 14.7 Monday to 12.6 yesterday, but France saw a gradual increase from 14.6 to 19 over the same period.

Jersey’s number of known active cases remained at four as the latest Covid-19 data was released yesterday, with all four people asymptomatic.

The latest test figures at Jersey Airport and the Elizabeth Terminal showed eight positive results among 14,800 tests on arriving passengers since July 3. The average wait time for test results over the past seven days was 31 hours.

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