The first two civilian cases of Covid-19 have been identified in the Falklands, it was confirmed this week, reports Penguin News. The first case was identified through quarantine surveillance swabbing of the individual, who had been in quarantine since their arrival in the Islands on November 5, “and remains so,” according to a Falkland Islands Government press statement.
The second case was also identified as a result of quarantine surveillance swabbing, and that individual had also been in quarantine since their arrival in the Islands.
“The second positive came from the flight that arrived in the Islands on Monday 9 November. This person had previously been on the flight that had been cancelled and was then bumped from the flight that arrived 5 November.” an FIG spokesperson said.
In a press conference the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Rebecca Edwards confirmed the individual was required to remain in quarantine until their full fourteen-day quarantine period was complete and they had tested negative for Covid-19 twice.
Dr Edwards said: “since their arrival at no point has this person had contact with the wider community. They’ve been in quarantine with other family members who also remain in quarantine themselves. Everyone who travelled on the same flight as the person who tested positive has already been contacted using the approved track and trace protocols.
They are all in quarantine and are being offered the opportunity to have three swabs taken during that fourteen-day period.”
Dr Edwards confirmed swabs during quarantine had not yet been made mandatory, as it, “is an invasive procedure,” and, “we don’t need to start forcing people to do something which they’re doing voluntarily at the moment.”
Speaking about the actual level of uptake the CMO said “We’ve had one child that wasn’t swabbed, but will be swabbed. Other than that absolutely everybody who’s arrived on the planes has been swabbed. So I can’t say it’s 100% but it’s damn near.”
Speaking in regard to the Track and Trace system Dr Edwards said: “Track and Trace protocols have been applied to other people who came into contact with the passengers from the flight, including those working in Customs and Immigration and Transportation; because of the recent circumstances surrounding the airbridge”
Dr Edwards continued, referencing recent significant delays to a southbound flight: “It has also been necessary to instigate track and trace protocols for passengers who had come into contact with the person who tested positive but who did not arrive on the same flight as them. For example everyone who arrived on the flight [on November 9] is also being contacted and the same applies for anyone involved in processing passengers from that flight.
KEMH is offering everyone the opportunity to be swabbed as a precaution, even those not in quarantine.”
A period of increased vigilance is to begin with the presence of Covid-19 in the Falklands. MLA Leona Roberts said: “Increased vigilance means that we know that there is a case of Covid-19 in the Falklands, and that if the situation becomes more serious the Government may change its guidance.”
MLA Roberts explained that in current guidance education institutions, businesses, nurseries and other services can remain open but, “are encouraged to work in ways that limit the risk of spreading infection” and, “people at the greatest risk of severe illness may be asked to self-isolate; social gatherings can continue with enhanced public hygiene measures.”
Chief Executive Barry Rowland briefed the public on amendments to quarantine requirements following a special meeting of the of the Executive Council on the afternoon of November 10. The revised arrangements will be implemented swiftly and the intention is that they will come into force on Monday the 16th of November. (PN)