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Guernsey In Lockdown

Guernsey has gone into immediate lockdown after four unexplained cases of coronavirus were detected.

Immediate 'stay at home' restrictions have been placed on people in Guernsey because of four new positive Covid-19 cases that the island's Public Health authorities have not identified the source of.

Officials there say 'it is not immediately clear' how the four people contracted the virus, as none of them have recently travelled off-island or been in contact with anyone who has.

The Director of Public Health, Dr Nicola Brink MBE, told reporters at a media briefing on Saturday lunchtime that contract tracing began within an hour of the cases being identified, and is continuing - to determine whether there is a link between the cases as well as whether these cases are as a result of wider community transmission.

Initially, Guernsey's government told islanders to cancel planned events and resume social distancing.  Care home and hospital visits were suspended.

The advice immediately led to the return of queues outside supermarkets.  

Then, in a midday press conference, the Chief Minister announced an immediate lockdown.

People are also being told to stay at home unless they are seeking medical care, carrying out essential shopping for food or supplies, or for up to two-hours exercise outdoors - as long as it’s with other household members, or with one other person providing they are at least two metres away.

Schools there will be closed on Monday and anyone who can work from home has been told to do so.

Restaurants and non-essential shops have been told to close - including for deliveries or takeaways. 

Deputy Peter Ferbrache, Chairman of the Civil Contingencies Authority, says the message for the community is to stay at home:

"We have four new cases of COVID-19 that have been identified overnight and it is not clear yet if they are linked or how they contracted the virus. We must for the moment assume this is the result of community seeding.

"We are announcing these steps with immediate effect in the hope that we can get this quickly under control with a sharp and strict lockdown. Unlike before, this is not new to us. We have done this once already, we know as a community that together we can do this successfully and keep each other safe.

"Even in doing this for a second time, we know the rules are not perfect. This isn’t about perfection, it’s about speed. If we need to update our guidance in the days ahead, we will do so please bear with us. We have taken decisive action. We know a lockdown isn’t easy. Guidance to support services is also available on our website. Call your friends and family, use video links and stay in touch. We must remember the objective here is to prevent the virus spreading. We should remember that in every single thing we all do.

"We know there will be many questions. We are continuing to meet and make decisions. We expect these measures to be in place for at least two weeks but we constantly reviewing them.’

Dr Brink says the safety of islanders is the States' top priority:

"The reappearance of cases of COVID-19 via unexplained community transmission means that we have to assume that these new cases pose a significant risk. ‘A lockdown is the most effective and efficient way to prevent onward transmission of COVID-19.

"We know from other jurisdictions around the world that hard and strict measures introduced quickly generate the best results and that is our focus - to try and get this under control and us back to the normality we have all enjoyed as quickly as possible."

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