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"We Still Have A Chance To Try Ten Times Harder"

The outgoing Medical Officer of Health has admitted she's 'a bit worried' about how cases are rising in Jersey - particularly as there are concerns the virus could be spreading more into the community than health staff realised.

Most have been detected at the borders or through household contacts, but investigations are underway into a few cases that don't seem to be connected to either of those.

There are now 81 known active cases of Covid-19. 59 have been found in the last ten days alone.

Dr. Susan Turnbull, who is retiring at the end of this month, says while stricter border measures will help to reduce the spread - it's not foolproof.

"The real risk to us is the fact that rates are rising so highly in all the countries around us at the moment.

"It's not too unexpected that Jersey is starting to be affected."

The border restrictions will become even stricter from this Saturday 24 October.

Dr. Turnbull, who is stepping down after 11 years as MOH in Jersey, has also warned it's not impossible that short lockdowns might be appropriate here if we don't abide by the current restrictions.

Stricter rules are coming into force across the UK, including in Manchester where there must be no household mixing, a rule of six will apply and pubs and bars not serving meals will close.

A 'firebreak' lockdown will start in Wales tomorrow (23 October) in which all non-essential shops will close and everyone will be told to stay at home.

Dr. Turnbull says there is still a chance to try ten times harder with the restrictions we've got to really make them work.

"I've had some reports that some premises are not necessarily following the guidance about distancing on the basis that its guidance rather than the law.

"Well, really the guidance is there for a good reason - it's to avoid having to make it law.

"If in the end, they don't actually work to control the rise of coronavirus infections, then much more stringent restrictions will end up being needed."

Channel 103 understands that an island-wide campaign will start next Monday to try and encourage all islanders to wear masks in indoor public spaces.

In an announcement understood to have been leaked online from a member of the Health Department, it states that masks should be worn when going to the likes of post offices, pharmacies, banks, supermarkets, petrol stations, hairdressers, and care homes.

It's currently recommended that masks be worn in these places, but there have been concerns that not enough people are doing it.

Dr. Turnbull, speaking to Channel 103 before this apparent online leak, made this plea.

"I think that people wearing masks actually reminds everybody that we're in a pandemic situation and it actually probably affects their behaviour more widely in terms of being considerate and cautious in other situations and not just the times when they have to wear the masks.

"I think there are wider benefits to wearing a mask and showing that you are taking it seriously is a good signal."

In a wide-ranging interview with Channel 103, Dr. Turnbull also talked about:

Dr. Ivan Muscat

Dr. Turnbull and Dr. Muscat worked together at Medical School and met again when Dr. Turnbull moved to Jersey in 2009.

Dr. Muscat has been at the forefront of the island's medical response to the pandemic, as Dr. Turnbull had to take time off to recover from an operation.

His work has since been recognised with an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Dr. Turnbull has praised Dr. Muscat, along with others who've worked to keep the island as safe as possible throughout the ongoing pandemic.

"Most of the advice, policy changes and guidance were about communicable disease control and it was right that Ivan became the main spokesman on advising the public about the different precautions and I think he's done that absolutely brilliantly.

"That is not to say there hasn't been a massive amount more going on behind the scenes as well which he's been involved in too, but also myself, policy colleagues, Patrick Armstrong from the hospital, there has been a huge piece of teamwork which will continue, which is why I don't feel concerned as I retire that I'm leaving Jersey other than in very good hands as regard the ongoing response to keeping Covid under control."

Since the news of Dr. Turnbull's impending retirement was released, there were huge calls on social media for Dr. Muscat to be promoted to Medical Officer of Health.

Dr. Turnbull says there is a lot more to being Medical Officer of Health than just communicable disease.

"There's a whole lot of other things that go on in Public health. I spend a lot of my time dealing with very confidential things such as one to ones with the medical profession, lots of things to do with deaths, lots of things to do with drugs, fitness to drive cars and lorries - the list is fairly endless!

"A lot of those are nothing to do with communicable diseases so there are plans tin place to recruit a successor to myself, so watch this space!"

The New Hospital

Overdale has been chosen as the preferred site for the new hospital, with a States vote due next month on whether to approve that as the first choice.

Dr. Turnbull says she's 'very, very hopeful that after so many years, the hospital project will actually get off the ground and the people of Jersey will get the hospital they deserve'.

"I think it probably goes back around seven years that I and others identified that most of the building infrastructure of the current hospital was in serious need of repair and was so out of date that it wouldn't meet any current European Standards.

"What we have got is excellent healthcare in terms of the quality of the doctors who work here and the nursing staff and the other allied health professionals who support the whole running of the hospital. The people are great, but the building is terrible.

"I really hope there isn't any further delay in getting the hospital built as planned by 2026."

Access has been one of the major concerns regarding Overdale - with a separate planning application to be submitted to widen Westmount Road.

Coming through George V homes was one of a few different options discarded as an option.

"As long as they can sort the road access out and the site itself, I think it would be fine. The concerns I recall being expressed about it way back when it first started to be discussed was to do with the steepness of the road and how you would not have possibly dangerous traffic jams for ambulance access etc.

"As long as the road infrastructure is sorted out, I can't see any problems with the site as such."

JERSEY CARE MODEL

The planned new model of healthcare for Jersey, aimed at easing pressure on the hospital, will be debated at the start of November.

The Jersey Care Model will mean some health services being moved into the community within the next four years, so islanders don't have to go to the hospital for routine and non-urgent appointments.

Deputy Richard Renouf says the coronavirus crisis has laid bare the strong and weak points of Jersey's health system - and that more focus is needed on prevention and self-care, reducing the dependency on secondary care and redesigning services so they meet islanders current and future needs.

Dr. Turnbull says the Care Model is critical to stand alongside a new hospital - adding that she's pleased to see it contains a public health and preventative element to it.

"Programmes such as the promotion of public health policy - alcohol, tobacco, food and nutrition and programmes such as the bowel, breast and cervical screening programmes as well as the childhood immunisation programme.

There is an awful lot that needs to be woven together across the interface between primary care for the GPs and their associated staff and other aspects of primary care such as dentistry, optometry and pharmacy.

"Bringing it all together in one comprehensive island-wide health model with public health and health and wellbeing in its centre is really important."

Dr. Turnbull is currently in self-isolation after going to the UK earlier this month. Her last day in office will be 30 October 2020.

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