07 April 2021
COVID-19 Public Update
Welcome to April’s monthly Covid-19 update.
- Total number of swab tests taken and processed to date: 7,165
- Total number of swabs taken but not yet tested: 0
- Total number of positive test results since 3 April 2020: 60
- Number of current positive test results within the Islands: 6
These positive cases relate to the southbound flight which arrived in the Falkland Islands on 31 March. A member of the crew became unwell on arrival and was confirmed as positive for Covid-19. Crew members are exempt from PCR testing prior to travel, however this individual had tested negative using a Lateral Flow Device before leaving the UK.
In line with Covid-19 protocol, the track and test system was implemented, and all Level 1 contacts were immediately put into isolation. Surveillance swabbing confirmed five of these individuals are also positive for Covid-19, bringing the total to six. All of these contacts will remain in isolation and will continue to be tested in accordance with government guidelines.
VACCINATION PROGRAMME UPDATE
As of Wednesday 7 April, we have given first doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to 2,605 people, providing a first dose coverage for 93% of the population. We have also been able to fully immunise 1,717 people with their first and second doses, a coverage of 61%. The KEMH aim to provide the remaining second doses before the end of May 2021.
This week, as previously advertised, the travelling vaccination team has been working with FIGAS to visit West Falkland and the Outer Islands to provide first and second doses. There will also be a ‘mop up’ session on Friday 9 April at FIDF Hall from 10-11.30am. This session will be for those who received their first dose between 8 – 26 February 2021 and who have not yet had their second. Anyone who has not yet had their first dose but wishes to be vaccinated is also welcome to come along to this session. Everyone who receives their first dose in early March will be contacted by KEMH to arrange their second dose in due course.
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in the vaccination programme, in particular colleagues working at KEMH, FIGAS and FIDF. Amazing progress has been made during the past eight weeks and it is thanks to the tireless efforts of these teams that we have been able to protect as many members of the community as possible.
Further to recent media speculation concerning the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and a possible link to blood clots, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) has confirmed that the vaccine is safe, effective and has saved thousands of lives. Today, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has confirmed that it recommends offering people aged 18-29 an alternative vaccine where available, however given the remote location of the Falkland Islands, the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is the only one currently available here due to temperature travel and storage requirements.
There is still no evidence that the jab causes blood clots and the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the risks for the vast majority of adults. The JCVI has also confirmed that everyone who has already had a first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine should receive a second dose of the same brand, irrespective of age, and this will be the case in the Falkland Islands.
Getting vaccinated is still the best way to prevent severe or fatal illness, as well as to protect the community at large, and the Falkland Islands Government continues to work closely with national UK health bodies to ensure that we are fully appraised of the latest evidence and information. Anyone who is concerned by the JCVI’s announcement is asked to contact KEMH, in confidence, for advice.
TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS – NORTHBOUND FLIGHTS
All travellers entering the UK must do the following:
- everyone arriving must quarantine/self-isolate for ten days on arrival and then continue follow any national or local lockdown requirements
- before travelling to England, passengers must book and pay for a ‘travel test package’, which provides Covid-19 tests to be taken on or before day two and on or after day eight of quarantine – these cost £210 and must be booked online by visiting: https://quarantinehotelbookings.ctmportal.co.uk/
- before travelling, complete a passenger locator form, via the UK government website: https://www.gov.uk/provide-journey-contact-details-before-travel-uk
Failure to follow the steps above could result in the following penalties:
- failure to book a travel test package before departure – up to £1,000
- failure to take two tests during quarantine/self-isolation – up to £2,000
- failure to complete the passenger location before arrival at Brize – up to £500
For more information, visit the UK government website: https://www.gov.uk/travel-abroad
TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS – SOUTHBOUND FLIGHTS
Travel to the Falkland Islands is restricted, with visitors are limited to the following groups:
- Business visitors required for essential maintenance on equipment, which cannot continue to be operated without the maintenance i.e. KEMH visiting engineers
- Crew from vessels associated with the Falkland Islands and SGSSI for the purpose of exchange and/or repatriation
- Scientific and other maritime observers associated with the Falkland Islands and SGSSI for exchange and/or repatriation purposes
- Individuals present in the Falkland Islands when LATAM flights were suspended
- Family members
- Business visitors for the purpose of delivering projects within The Islands Plan
- Other business visitors
- Vessel crews with no connection to the Falkland Islands for the purpose of exchange and/or repatriation where onward travel arrangements are confirmed and in place.
All travellers entering the Falkland Islands need to do the following before their flight:
- provide proof of a negative PCR test for Covid-19 no more than five days before arrival in Senegal – this is a requirement of the Republic of Senegal
- complete an IDC5 form – this is to be returned to the flight booking office
- arrange adequate quarantine accommodation in the Falkland Islands
- arrange transportation to their place of quarantine – if this is via Penguin Travel then bookings should be made early as there is a maximum capacity of 40 passengers
- complete a travel declaration form stating why they are travelling – details are on the UK government’s website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-declaration-form-for-international-travel
To clarify a few further points on southbound travel:
- No one should be asked for proof of vaccination as this is not a standard check-in procedure, nor is it UK government policy; if this changes the public will be informed
- Your proof of a negative Covid-19 test result must be in a name that is similar to the name displayed in your passport – for example, a shorted name is acceptable, but nicknames that do not bear close relation to your given name are not
- If your passport is in your maiden name, please ensure that your test is also in your maiden name, as otherwise you will need to carry your marriage certificate as proof
More information on southbound travel can be found on the Falkland Islands Government website: https://www.fig.gov.fk/covid-19/travel/southbound
People arriving into the Falkland Islands, whether travelling by sea or air, must spend their first 14 days in the Islands in quarantine, in accordance with the Infectious Diseases Control (Coronavirus, Quarantine) Regulations 2021. You can read the Regulations online by visiting: https://www.legislation.gov.fk
People in quarantine must not share their living accommodation or any facilities (bathroom, kitchen) with anyone who is not in quarantine with them. While in quarantine, individuals will receive at least one welfare call and will be asked to participate in our surveillance swabbing programme, which involves being swabbed for coronavirus on three separate occasions to make sure that people are free of infection before they leave quarantine.
More information on quarantining in the Falkland Islands is available on our website: https://www.fig.gov.fk/covid-19/quarantine
KEMH would like to remind the public that, due to the Covid-19 situation in mainland South America, it remains increasingly difficult to arrange medevac services both in and out of the Falkland Islands. Chile has now closed its borders and hospitals in neighbouring Uruguay are also under extreme pressure. As a result, people are reminded to take extra care if they undertake any activities which might put them at risk of significant injury. Anything that the public can do to help reduce the demand for medevac services really helps KEMH and the hospitals that it works with. This situation does not impact on planned medical treatment for people travelling to the UK, although KEMH continues to work closely with the NHS, in the event that a further resurgence of Covid-19 in the UK may impact on these plans.
Commercial airlinks with Chile and Brazil remain suspended and will not be in operation until at least 29 June 2021. While operators may still enable online bookings beyond this date, no decision has been taken as to when flights will resume. The situation is under regular review given the complexities surrounding the pandemic, in particular travel restrictions, global border controls and the new variants of Covid-19.
The next monthly Covid-19 update for the Falkland Islands will be on 5 May 2021.