31 December 2020
- New Coronavirus Variant in the United Kingdom
- Update on January’s Repatriation Flight
- Restricted Access to St Helena Sea Port from 5 January 2021
- PPE Refresher Training for Airport Staff
The Incident Executive Group (IEG) met on Thursday, 31 December 2020, to review St Helena COVID-19 preparedness in light of the new coronavirus variant in the United Kingdom.
New Coronavirus Variant in the United Kingdom
A new coronavirus variant has been identified in the United Kingdom. Though much is unknown about this new variant, early evidence suggests it is more transmittable than earlier variants of the virus. Because of this, the majority of new cases of COVID-19 in the UK are likely caused by this variant. Research and monitoring is ongoing, but there is no evidence yet that suggests higher virulence (ability to cause harm).
This variant can be identified through the PCR Test Kits being used to test for COVID-19 on St Helena. This means the effectiveness of testing regimes on-Island remains unchanged. Ongoing work and research is currently taking place globally to provide further evidence around testing and vaccination. The Health Directorate is keeping informed with any updates and is in close discussion with Public Health England for advice.
January Repatriation Flight
The January repatriation flight, operated by Titan Airways, is due to arrive to St Helena during the week commencing Monday, 11 January 2021. It is important to note that repatriation flights are for essential travel only.
Essential travel means returning residents (whose primary residence is St Helena) and their dependants and those coming for essential work or business, like critical health workers, and their dependants can travel to St Helena. Holidaymakers will not be granted permission to travel to the Island. A maximum limit of 50 seats has been set for arrivals from the United Kingdom, exclusive of transit passengers, and are prioritised accordingly.
With most of the UK currently in lockdown, the risk of an infected person travelling to the Island is reduced. All protocols and procedures for arriving passengers are still current, which includes passengers being tested on arrival and required to undergo 14 days of quarantine to further reduce an already low risk. Passengers will only be released from the requirement to quarantine if they test negative for COVID-19 on Day 14.
Restricted Access to St Helena Sea Port
With COVID-19 cases on the rise again (South Africa and globally) and travel restrictions being put in place in many countries, a decision has been made by the IEG that travel to St Helena will only be permitted for limited purposes at this time. In keeping with the earlier decision that January’s repatriation flight should be for essential purposes only, passenger access by sea will now also only be permitted to specified categories.
This means that the only persons who will be allowed to enter the Island via sea or air will be:
- Saints and their dependants
- Long term entry permit holders and their dependants
- Those in the service of the Crown in right of the Government of St Helena and their dependants
This restricted access by sea will come into effect from Tuesday, 5 January 2021.
While this will mean that tourists arriving on visiting yachts will not be allowed to come ashore, St Helena will still honour its international obligations.
PPE Refresher Training
The wearing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is one of the strongest defences an individual can take to protect themselves from any risk of infection – this is essential for frontline staff like health workers and carers.
To ensure that staff are continuously aware of the correct ways to use and remove PPE, a refresher training session will take place on 8 January 2021 for all Airport staff ahead of the arrival of January’s repatriation flight.
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31 December 2020