Protective measures for all Falkland Islands residents are being advised following a number following a number of cases of COVID-19 being confirmed at MPC. The Commander British Forces South Atlantic Islands implemented a number of precautionary measures at Mount Pleasant Complex (MPC), following a number of positive COVID-19 cases which were identified outside of quarantine it was announced on April 15. This action enabled BFSAI and the Falkland Islands Government to understand the situation in depth.
The Falkland Islands government said in a release that after large scale surveillance testing of approximately 500 people, 22 individuals were confirmed as being positive for COVID-19, and over half of these have not displayed any symptoms and cannot be clearly traced to a single point of contact. As has been outlined recently, this is reflective of what is happening across the world, where COVID-19 is circulating within communities, as opposed to an outbreak or a cluster of the disease.
As a result of this situation, all positive cases have been moved into isolation and are complying with the necessary safeguarding measures. Having swiftly and competently managed this situation, and provided the cluster is confirmed as contained BFSAI intends to lift the precautionary measures from 01:00am on Saturday 23 April.
What does this mean for the wider community? What is changing?
While no cases of COVID-19 have been identified outside of MPC, the Falkland Islands government is unable to confirm if there has been any wider transmission across the community prior to the introduction of precautionary measures at MPC. It is also not possible to establish where these positive cases caught COVID-19 from.As such, the government is advising everyone to consider adopting enhanced protective measures – these are voluntary and not a legal requirement – however public health guidance is as follows:
Wear a face covering when interacting with others indoors; Practicing social distancing and Wash your hands regularly and cover any coughs or sneezes
There is a paper public health guidance booklet being sent to all households as soon as possible, however this information also available online by visiting: https://www.falklands.gov.fk/covid-19/information/kemh-guidance
Businesses may choose to enact their continuity plans ahead of 4 May, which may mean that you find you are asked to follow specific rules in different settings – for example in shops, pubs, hotels and restaurants.
Anyone who experiences the symptoms of COVID-19 should contact the KEMH to request a test. Asymptomatic testing is not encouraged at this stage, unless you are identified as a direct contact of a confirmed positive case, or as a usual part of the test-to-release regime for quarantine. For individuals who test positive, the government will bring forward the date for the provision of up to five days of COVID-19 sick leave, meaning that this policy will go live with immediate effect, as opposed to on 4 May 2022, as previously advised.
What is not changing?
This does not mean that the government will be changing its approach to relaxing COVID-19 measures from 4 May 2022 – it will neither speed up, nor delay, the plans that we have put in place.
All passengers arriving between now and 4 May 2022, will still need to undertake quarantine in line with the existing regulations, as we continue to support businesses in finalising their continuity plans, and the KEMH works to ensure that it has the necessary resources in place to support the community, including sufficient Lateral Flow Device kits and medication.
As a reminder, from 4 May 2022, there will no longer be a legal requirement to:
• Enter a period of quarantine upon arrival in the Falkland Islands
• Provide evidence of a negative Covid-19 test as a condition of entry to the Falkland Islands – however this may still be a requirement as a condition of carriage for people entering the Islands either by air or sea
• Travel from Mount Pleasant Airport (MPA) in designated transport.
The Falkland Islands Government would like to publicly offer their sincere thanks to CBFSAI and the whole community at MPC, for their collaborative approach to managing the identified cases over the past few days, in a measured and pragmatic approach, in order to help keep everyone safe.