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Public Health update re: the ongoing monitoring of COVID-19 and the decisions made in the UK regarding passengers from China

Public Health have been monitoring the situation both within the Bailiwick, and beyond our borders closely over the holiday period. This forms part of our 24/7 service that we offer. We have taken special note with regard to the number of cases both in the UK and here.

We are, of course, aware that the Department of Health and Social Care in the UK have said people travelling from China on direct flights from 5th January will be asked to take a pre-departure COVID test. Importantly, from 8th January, the UK Health Security Agency will also launch surveillance, which will see a sample of passengers arriving from China tested for the virus as they arrive. This will provide information on the emergence of any new variants of concern and we will be able to use this information in our local risk assessments.

In our view any decision needs to be evidence driven and specific to the Bailiwick. Given there were over one million COVID-19 infections in England recently, there is already a local source for any potential new variants.

Other points of note are:

  • It is virtually impossible to travel to Guernsey from China via commercial operators without transiting through the UK or France first – both countries have introduced pre-departure testing for Chinese arrivals. This will provide protection for the Bailiwick. We do acknowledge that there may be scope for travel via a private jet, but any traveller numbers via this route are likely to be extremely low.
  • It seems the approach being taken by the UK, and other countries, is to require a pre-departure negative test as a condition of carriage on outbound flights from China. This will be augmented by surveillance testing from 8th January at UK borders, again providing protection for the Bailiwick

Finally, to date there is no specific information suggestive of an identified new variant threat. As such, given the relative prevalence in the UK and very low travel volume direct from China (if any), reinstating new measures does not seem proportionate at this point.

It is therefore the Public Health recommendation that we continue to monitor the situation closely and modify any response, as required, based on new and emerging evidence.