The Isle of Man Chief Minister announced bad news on Friday. A patient at the island’s Noble Hospital has died from coronavirus, he said, the first Manx Covid death since November 5.
Howard Quayle said he knew the news “would be a blow” to the 85,000 residents of the Isle of Man. “The death of a member of our island community is a painful reminder of the dangerousness of this virus,” he added.
It is also a warning to the UK as it eagerly awaits the slow reopening of the company, how quickly Covid can take hold again.
It was not until the beginning of February that the Isle of Man emerged from containment. Pubs, shops and restaurants reopened, social distancing measures were lifted and face coverings were no longer required. At the time, Quayle said the reopening of the company was possible because: “There is collective determination, a sense of duty and a spirit of community. The public followed all the rules.
Just over a month later, on March 3, the island entered a 21-day ‘breaker’ lockdown to limit the spread of the virus after a spike in cases, with the government deeming the ‘index case’ ( patient zero in the current wave) was most likely a ferry worker.
As of Friday afternoon, there were 704 active cases of Covid on the Isle of Man, with 12 people hospitalized, including one in intensive care.
The admission that the island’s ferry service had likely brought back from Covid sparked anger on the Isle of Man, with some questioning why ferry workers were exempted from the strict 21-day quarantine imposed on all other arrivals .
The fury is exacerbated by the fact that the Manx government has implemented one of the strictest Covid enforcement regimes in the world in an effort to keep the island infection-free. Fifty-six people have been jailed for violating coronavirus restrictions in the past year, 18 of whom were sent to jail for failing to follow instructions to self-isolate when ordered to do so.
But the same rules don’t apply to ferry workers after the Isle of Man government last month decided that those based on the island did not have to isolate themselves when they returned home after a shift.
According to a government spokesperson, the agreement with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, which operates the ferries, “included a comprehensive risk assessment agreed with public health to mitigate the risks on board the ship regarding the practices of the ferry. work, including travel to / from the ship; a regime of surveillance tests for the whole crew at the start and end of the work cycle and the extension of the vaccination program ”.
The scheme was designed to “mitigate the risks associated with the service while recognizing the crucial role of the ferry operator as part of the island’s critical national infrastructure,” he added.
The border of the island was closed to almost all non-residents since March of last year. But ferries continue to shuttle for what the island calls the “controlled return” of residents, as well as key workers needed to preserve life, public safety and critical national infrastructure.
Anyone returning to the island must isolate themselves. They can either complete a mandatory 21-day self-isolation period or pay £ 150 for a series of tests – one within two days of arrival, a second on the seventh day and a third on the 13th day, allowing for early termination of self-isolation after the final negative test.
The latest death brings the total number of people who have lost their lives to the coronavirus on the island to 26.