Background

Countries affected by the Ebola virus are Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. The total number of reported probable, confirmed and suspected cases up to 17th October 2014 is 8,997, with 4,493 deaths.

Three countries, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, currently have high transmission levels. Countries with an initial case/s or with localised transmission are Nigeria and Senegal. Neighbouring countries where transmission may be possible are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’lvoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali and Senegal. Cases have also been identified in the US, Spain and Germany.

The outbreak has an overall fatality rate of 49%and is a very serious illness.

However, the threat of Ebola reaching St Helena or Ascension is extremely low. The measures put in place in the UK and South Africa coupled with the work locally mean that we are well placed to deal with the Ebola threat.

The UK Government has launched a humanitarian effort to help with the outbreak. Both British military and humanitarian staff have arrived in Freetown, Sierra Leone, to oversee the construction of the UK’s medical facility and assist with the response to the outbreak.

Flights to Sierra Leone are transiting through Ascension Island, which is being used as a forward mounting base for the humanitarian operation and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

The Ascension Island Government (AIG) has received assurances from the HQ British Forces South Atlantic that any flights returning to Ascension from Sierra Leone, having delivered personnel or supplies, would present no onward risk when they transit Ascension, as there would be no risk to the aircraft or crew when landing at Freetown. In addition, they have taken appropriate precautionary measures including that the crew remain with aircraft, do not plan a stopover and that they refrain from shaking hands with local population (as directed by World Health Organisation)

Q&A EBOLA

 

  1. How big a threat is Ebola?

 

  • Currently the threat of Ebola reaching St Helena or Ascension is low.
  • There are no reported outbreaks in South Africa, the UK, St Helena or Ascension Island.
  • Our focus is very much on prevention at this time but with good contingency plans also in place.
  • We are consistently reviewing the situation and our response will change in line with the threat.

 

  1. What are St Helena and Ascension Island doing in response?

 

  • St Helena has formed a cross-government Tactical Coordination Group, chaired at Deputy Chief Secretary level which meets regularly to plan for the changing profile of the Ebola threat.  Several stakeholders are involved in this meeting to ensure a coordinated response to the issue.  Ascension is finalising its Ebola response plan and preparing for all contingencies.
  • SHG is working closely with Andrew Weir Shipping to ensure that all passengers on board the RMS are subject to enhanced checks to protect both the RMS and the islands she serves.
  • SHG is also working with Basil Read to ensure that crew on board the NP Glory 4 are subject to the same checks as other visiting vessels to the Island.
  • Additional measures are in place in the harbour and at immigration control in both Ascension and St Helena to ensure that crew of other vessels arriving in our waters are all screened for potential exposure to Ebola.
  • These measures are on top of our regular protocols such as the maritime declaration of health form which is always required from larger visiting vessels.

 

  1. Will Ebola reach St Helena or Ascension Island?

 

  • We believe the preventative measures in place in St Helena and Ascension mean that the risk of Ebola reaching either Island is very remote.
  • The work being done by South Africa, the UK as well as St Helena and Ascension Islands means the risk is reduced still further.
  • If Ebola is reported in any of the countries where the RMS or any other visiting vessel travels from local responses would change and we are prepared for this.

 

  1. What will we do if Ebola does reach St Helena?

 

  • Currently the threat of Ebola reaching St Helena is low.
  • There are no reported outbreaks in South Africa, the UK or Ascension Island.
  • Our focus is very much on prevention at this time but with good contingency planning also in place.
  • Should a case of Ebola be found in St Helena the Health Directorate has a contingency plan and protocols in place to ensure that the community is protected.

 

  1. What will we do if Ebola does reach Ascension Island?

 

  • Currently the threat of Ebola reaching Ascension is low.  The measures the MOD have put in place with regard to the arriving flights from Sierra Leone both in Freetown and locally mean we are confident the risk of any onward transmission is minimal.
  • There are no reported outbreaks in South Africa, the UK or St Helena.
  • Our focus is very much on prevention at this time but with good contingency planning also in place.
  • Should a case of Ebola be found in Ascension the hospital has plans and protocols in place to deal to ensure that the community is protected. AIG is working closely with the UK Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office Ebola Taskforce to prepare for all eventualities.

 

  1. What is the current situation regarding the RMS from Cape Town and what measures are in place to protect the public?

 

  • As part of the Tactical Coordination Groups plan passengers and crew travelling from Cape Town are required to complete screening questionnaires prior embarkation. This covers issues such as travel to high risk countries and if the traveller has a fever.
  • The medical staff on the RMS have been briefed regarding the symptoms and will investigate any concerns
  • Upon arrival at St Helena travellers are asked to inform the immigration officer if they have visited any of the high risk countries in the last 30 days
  • Should the RMS crew have any concerns then the islands Senior Medical Officer is contacted to complete an assessment prior to landing
  • The Tactical Coordination Group are routinely monitoring the process to ensure that it is robust

 

 

  1. There are planes from the infected areas landing at Ascension Island as part of the UK humanitarian effort. Isn’t this a threat to Ascension Island residents?

 

  • As part of the humanitarian operation the UK is sending planes to Sierra Leone via Ascension Island.  The Ministry of Defence has put in place robust preventative measures to ensure their UK staff and others working on, or in, the planes are well protected against any transmission of the disease.
  • The WHO and Public Health England have advised that personnel on these flights do not pose additional risk to warrant any quarantine or isolation measures.
  • Flights arriving at Ascension from Sierra Leone, as part of the humanitarian operation take off and land in controlled conditions in both Ascension and Sierra Leone.  The flight crew who are running shuttles between Ascension and Freetown do not leave the plane at Freetown.
  • While the risk of aircraft crew being infected is extremely remote, appropriate precautionary measures are being taken. Crew remain on the aircraft in Sierra Leone, no stop-overs are planned in Freetown and crew are being asked to refrain from contact with local people.

 

  1. What are SHG and AIG doing to protect the public with regard to flights to Ascension?

 

  • SHG and AIG are coordinating the response to the flights into Ascension.
  • We are working closely with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of Defence, the Cabinet Office Civil Contingencies Unit and public health England to ensure agreed procedures are being robustly followed and monitored.

 

 

SHG

17October 2014

 

 

 

Careers Fair
Careers Fair

On Wednesday, 15 October 2014, St Helena’s annual Careers Fair was held at Prince Andrew School from 10am-5pm.

More than 20 businesses took part in the Fair with stalls displaying posters, equipment, films, photography slideshows and products relevant to their business type.   Various demonstrations were conducted on the outside court area, including from Tommy, the Police Dog, Buzz, the Drugs dog, and hourly forestry/tractor demonstrations.

Guest speakers were on hand with topics covering Scholarships, Starting up a Business and Training in Languages, to name but a few.

The fair was opened by Work Development Coordinator, Cynthia Bennett:

“Simply this event is to inspire you to learn and to develop – to reach to the top so that you may achieve your goals and make your dreams a reality.”

The day was also marked by the unveiling of the Education Directorate’s new Lifelong Learning logo.  The logo represents the creation of the new Lifelong Learning Service picking up areas originally covered by AVES – apprenticeships and work development, training, distance learning and examinations, City and Guilds Centre, Public Library and childcare coordination.

Careers Fair
Careers Fair

Kerry Yon, Assistant Director Lifelong Learning said:

“The Education and Employment Directorate has always aimed to provide learning opportunities for all ages and at all stages of life and recently, some restructuring took place within the Directorate to bring lifelong learning under one umbrella.

“To everyone here today, we are all learning each day.  Please take advantage of the opportunities on offer, talk to us, find out about the fields that interest you and remember that it is never too late to learn.”

Careers Fair 2
Careers Fair 2

Careers showcased on the day were from Solomon & Company, Connect St Helena, Bank of St Helena Limited, South Atlantic Media Services, Enterprise St Helena, G – Unique, Dalco, ProArc, Essence, Bliss, George Bennett’s Upholstery, SHAPE, Pat’s Clutch & Brake Bonding Services, Penny Savers, St Helena National Trust, Environment & Natural Resources Directorate, Health and Social Services, Corporate Services, Police & Prison, Fire & Rescue, St Helena Audit Service and the Education and Employment Directorate.

Deputy Chairman of the Education Committee, Councillor Nigel Dollery encouraged those present to excel and be proactive in the job they are in, noting that dedication will pay of in the future.

Three pictures are attached with this release.

SHG

16 October 2014

On Monday 6 October 2014 the Agriculture and Natural Resources Division (ANRD) advised the public that the planned Island-wide vaccination programme, for Newcastle Disease in chickens on St Helena, was cancelled. It was found that the vaccines had not been couriered in the right conditions in South Africa and they were therefore unfit for purpose.

SHG reacted quickly to the situation and was able to source an appropriate vaccine from the UK which arrived on-Island on Monday 13 October 2014, with additional supplies due to arrive from South Africa in the near future.

As a result of this a two-phase vaccination programme (alongside a containment programme to remove wild and free-ranging chickens) will commence from Thursday 16 October 2014 to prevent further infection of poultry on St Helena.

The first phase will target the St Paul’s and Half Tree Hollow area where the outbreak currently lies. Due to the high number of chickens in the area this phase is expected to be completed within 3 weeks, providing good owner cooperation is experienced.

The programme will be reassessed after 3 weeks to determine if Phase 2 needs to be fully implemented.

ANRD would like to advise poultry owners that this batch of vaccines require a different application method than the ‘Lasota’ vaccine from South Africa. Chickens must be individually vaccinated which means that the process will be lengthier but the level of protection to individual chickens is higher and will provide cover for the life of the bird.

ANRD will contact poultry owners to advise as and when they will be administering the vaccine in their areas, and would urge owners to be fully cooperative and responsible for having their chickens ready for vaccination. Vaccinating chickens not only protects poultry owner’s flocks but stopping the spread of the disease is vital to the Island as a whole. Without cooperation and owners taking responsibility the consequences are dire for St Helena.

The programme will be monitored and a Tactical Coordination Group, chaired at Assistant Chief Secretary level, is monitoring the situation. The vaccination programme will demand the time of the ANRD team and during this period the public are asked that all queries related to Newcastle Disease be directed to the Emergency Planner, Alistair Smith, on tel: 22721.

ANRD would like to extend their thanks to poultry owners who have cooperated thus far, experts in the UK for their support and guidance on this vaccination programme, Basil Read for logistical support, colleagues on Ascension Island and the crew and Captain of the RMS for the safe arrival of the vaccines.

Although queries have been raised that Newcastle Disease has spread to the pig population on St Helena the UK advice and literature currently available to us regarding Newcastle Disease does not indicate any known cases of Newcastle Disease spreading to pigs or other livestock.

ADVICE TO POULTRY OWNERS

 

  1. Do I have to be involved in the vaccination programme?

 

  1. Stopping the spread of the disease is an Island issue and we want people to be as fully cooperative and responsible as possible.

 

Q. How quickly does the vaccination give protection from Newcastle Disease?

 

  1. It takes the chicken 7 to 10 days to develop immunity and it is vulnerable to infection during this period. So you still need to follow the simple measures already contained in earlier information from SHG on the disease to prevent infection and spread, and to protect your flock.

 

  1. How does the vaccination affect chickens?

 

  1. There may be a drop in egg production for a few weeks. The poultry may also be a little poorly for a few days while they develop immunity. They will return to their normal state in a couple of weeks.

 

  1. How soon can I eat eggs from vaccinated poultry?

 

  1. The egg shell may change colour, from brown to white. However, there is no withdrawal period and eggs can be safely consumed immediately following vaccination.

 

  1. How soon can I slaughter and eat poultry after vaccination?

 

  1. There is no withdrawal period, poultry can be slaughtered and eaten immediately after vaccination.

 

  1. Should poultry be vaccinated with the new vaccines if they have already had the ‘LaSota’ vaccine?

 

  1. Yes, this will give added protection.

 

  1. Will they need revaccination in the future?

 

A. No, this vaccination will last their lives once they have developed immunity, which takes 7 to 10 days.

 

SHG

15 October 2014

Planting
Planting

The Landscape and Ecology Mitigation Programme (LEMP) provides compensatory habitats for the ones lost due to the airport construction and works to secure the future of St Helena’s unique flora and fauna. LEMP, in collaboration with Basil Read and the EMD conservation nursery in Scotland, has now started its planting activities on the airport site, with endemic babies’ toes (Hydrodea cryptantha) and scrubwoods (Commidendrum rugosum).

As part of preparation for construction activities on the north-west side of the runway, Basil Read and the LEMP team have now transplanted hundreds of endemic babies’ toes to the terraces nearby. Babies’ toes is an annual plant species that will die during the dry summer period but will come up from seeds after next winter rains. It will hopefully establish a self-sustaining population on the terraces in future.

On 9 October 2014 the LEMP team consisting of Mikko Paajanen, Belinda Thomas, Kurt Plato and Brandon O’Bey carried out the first plantings of endemic scrubwoods between Prosperous Bay Plain and King and Queen Rocks. Plants were provided by the Environment and Natural Resources Department’s conservation Nursery at Scotland.  

LEMP Ecologist Mikko Paajanen, said:

“This area was chosen to give a boost to the original population where most of the scrubwood seed for the airport site rehabilitation comes from. Planting of the babies’ toes and scrubwoods is a good start for our huge task of rehabilitation on the areas affected by the airport construction.”

SHG

14 October 2014

Executive Council met today, Tuesday 14 October 2014, to discuss two items on the Open Agenda.

The first item was an Application for Outline Development Permission for the proposed Solar Farm at the current site of the rifle range at Half Tree Hollow. ExCo was pleased to approve the proposal but wished to highlight the need to continue, until fruition, the relocation of the rifle range.

The second item requested the discharge of Condition 1 pursuant to Development Permission for the Rupert’s Wharf – Rockfall Assessment. ExCo was of the opinion that an informed decision is difficult at this time and the suggestion was that this be deferred until the completion of a site visit to enable full exploration of potential implications.

The meeting ended at 10.20am.

ExCo

14 October 2014

Education Adviser, Dr Don Taylor from the Department for International Development (DFID), has been on Island for a week, monitoring progress in raising the quality of teaching and learning in the schools, assessing progress in training and up skilling the labour force, and commenting on draft budget estimates for 2015-16.

This is Dr Taylor’s annual visit to the Island, having last visited in November 2013.

During his stay, Dr Taylor has been visiting the four Island schools and meeting teachers, specialist staff, SHG officials, and Councillors on the Education Committee. He commented:

“This is my third annual visit to St Helena and it is good to see real improvement over the past three years, particularly in the GCSE results at Prince Andrew School.  The schools, Adult and Vocational Education Serviceand Enterprise St Helena are working well together to equip young people with the skills they will need to lead healthy and productive lives.”

Dr Taylor departs the Island tomorrow, Tuesday 14 October 2014, and will produce a short report on his visit for DFID and SHG officials.

DFID provides financial support for education on the Island through the recurrent budget of SHG and technical support through additional funding for teacher training, advisory teachers, and senior managers.

SHG

13 October 2014

Open to the Public from 9.30 am

Executive Council will meet tomorrow morning, Tuesday 14 October 2014, in the Council Chamber.

The meeting will be open to the public from 9.30am for two Open Agenda items:

 

  • Application for Outline Development Permission for the proposed Solar Farm
  • Request for Discharge of Condition 1 pursuant to Development Permission 2013/92 – Rupert’s Rockfall Assessment

Executive Council Members are: Lawson Henry, Wilson Duncan and Leslie Baldwin.  Councillors Nigel Dollery and Brian Isaac are acting Exco Members while Councillor Christine Scipio-O’Dean and Ian Rummery are on overseas business and leave.

 SHG

13 October 2014

The Education Directorate would like to remind the public of their programme currently showing on Local TV 1.

The Directorate has been working closely with the Nursery Classes and Crèches to develop appropriate practice to give all children the best start on their journey of learning to read. Parents have a very important role to play in this process. Reading does not begin when a child brings home a reading book – it starts much earlier.

The programme, made by the Education Directorate, looks at this process, what is currently being done, and what else parents could be doing to help their child.

Catch the programme again this week at the following times:

13 October               19.55

14 October               19.35

15 October               20.00

16 October               19.05

17 October               19.50

18 October               16.55

19 October               17.00

SHG

13 October 2014

 

Dr McDaniel
Dr McDaniel

There are 36 days left for applicants to apply for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Chevening Scholarship programme.

Established in 1983, the programme offers outstanding scholars from around the world to study postgraduate courses at UK universities. Talented professionals from St Helena are urged to apply for this round of UK Chevening Scholarships.

The programme provides full or part funding for full-time courses at postgraduate level, normally at a one-year Master’s level, in any subject and at any UK university.

SHG’s Social Services Policy Development Officer, Dr Cilla McDaniel, negotiated with SHG and the Chevening Scholarship panel to complete the taught component of her Doctorate in the span of a year (normally allocated for a Master’s Degree).  Dr McDaniel completed her eight taught modules and began her thesis in the first year of her Social Policy course at the University of Bristol. In this way Chevening paid for all tuition and thesis fees, and SHG subsidised the following years.  Dr McDaniel was motivated to complete her studies in a shorter time than the allocated 5 years.

Now a Doctor of Social Science (Social Policy), Dr McDaniel said of her experience:

“This was the first time I was able to experience full university life – previously I studied through distance learning. It was enlightening to interact and work with people from diverse backgrounds and countries.

“My Doctorate in Social Policy has given me the recognition that compliments many years of knowledge and skills and enables me to work at a high level.  I am in a position where I can effectively advocate for a better way of life for the people of St Helena.  The Chevening Scholarship gave me a wealth of opportunities and I will continue to keep in touch as an alumni member.

“I would strongly recommend this scholarship to anyone regardless of age or background.”

Pamela Constantine also received part-funding from the Chevening Programme. Pamela did a degree in Business and Administration through the Education Directorate Post – School Scholarship Fund and was awarded funding for her final year at university from the Chevening programme, graduating in 2004.

Pamela spoke of her experience:

Pamela Constantine
Pamela Constantine

“It exposed me to new ideas, and gave me diverse theoretical knowledge about the subject.  If anyone is apprehensive about applying for a Chevening scholarship, I think you should go for it, it opens you up to different opportunities and experiences and allows you to meet and relate to a wide range of students from around the world.  There are also advisors who are there to take care of you during the programme.” 

The next round of Scholarship studies will commence in September 2015. Interested persons have until 15 November 2014 to submit their applications. For more information visit: www.chevening.org/apply.

SHG

10 October 2014

Emma Gilsenan with Lay Advocates and team from the Public Solicitors Office
Emma Gilsenan with Lay Advocates and team from the Public Solicitors Office

The St Helena Public Solicitor’s Office has for the last two months been receiving valuable on-Island support from qualified UK Barrister, Emma Gilsenan.

Supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Overseas Territories Programme Fund, Emma arrived in July 2014 (on her second visit to the Island), to assist the Public Solicitor’s Office. Emma’s role has been to provide training to the Lay Advocates, draft a training manual, and support the trainee Public Solicitor, Aldhelm Garner, with criminal, civil and human rights cases across the broad spectrum of services provided by the Office.

With two new Lay Advocates recently appointed (Tony Green and Geoff Dawson), Emma has been delivering intense training to them, supported by the Public Solicitor and fellow Lay Advocate Ivy Ellick. As the role of a Lay Advocate is to provide advice and guidance requested by people in a confidential manner and representing that person in court if necessary, Emma has been training the Lay Advocates in Criminal Law, Practices, Procedures, Advocacy and Client Confidentiality and Ethics.

Emma said:

“I have recently participated in rigorous training with Argent/Goldsmith Chambers and Middle Temple in London as part of my pupillage. During the course of training with the Lay Advocates, I have been passing some of what I have learnt on, to hopefully assist them in performing their role.

“The Lay Advocate scheme is unique to St Helena and Ascension Island. It is very important, that on such small Islands, people who are giving their own time to assist members of the public are valued. Lay Advocates understand the community and can provide valuable support and assistance to people involved in the legal system. The Public Solicitor’s Office is an office that is independent of Government and advises and supports individuals in the community. This support and advice is extended to Lay Advocates in their role in the legal system.”

To complement the training Emma has also produced an introductory training manual in criminal law as a reference guide for the Lay Advocates in their practice going forward.

Emma added:

“The Public Solicitor’s Office has a wide remit and deals with a broad range of cases including, but not limited to, Criminal, Prison Law, Employment, Civil, Family, Child Care and Human Rights. The Office is therefore very busy and the team are very dedicated to assisting the community and providing a quality independent legal service.

“We are very grateful to the Lay Advocates for giving their time to the community, enabling them to have a voice, access to justice and understand their rights as citizens and individuals.”

Emma holds a Law Degree and has a wealth of experience in Law. She completed her Bar Exams with the College of Law in London and was called to the Bar of Middle Temple in 2008. Emma has worked in the legal team of UK Charity, The Howard League for Penal Reform, in Criminal Defence Firm GT Stewart Solicitors in London and has also recently completed a pupillagewith Argent/Goldsmith Chambers. In 2013 Emma first visited St Helena to support the Public Solicitor’s Office with their preparations for Supreme Court.

Emma departs the Island on Wednesday 8 October  2014 and will be assisting with training and support to the Lay Advocates on Ascension Island. Emma will return on 5 November 2014 to assist with this year’s sitting of Supreme Court and deliver further training.

A photo is attached to this release.

 

SHG

7 October 2014