10 June 2021
On Tuesday, 8 June, the Incident Executive Group (IEG) met to review and discuss St Helena’s Response Plan to COVID-19. The current quarantine arrangements were reviewed.
The situation with COVID-19 is constantly being updated with increasing scientific knowledge from the global response to the pandemic. Decisions on the Island’s quarantine arrangements are informed by new scientific and medical evidence available. It is also based on the constant review of the COVID-19 response strategy, measures and adjusting the applied measures to the level of threat.
The following changes and safeguards were agreed by IEG and should be implemented in time for the arrival of the Titan Airways charter flight in June:
Quarantine period to be reduced from 14 to 10 days
The decision has been taken to reduce the number of quarantine days from 14 to 10. This is based on the latest professional advice and international experience:
- The UK’s threat level of cases developing has decreased significantly between January 2021 and the present. This means it is less likely that a passenger on board a Charter flight from the UK to St Helena would be positive for COVID-19
- Public Health England states transmission of the virus requires close contact with an infected person and stipulates these scenarios as,
- having face-to-face contact with someone less than a metre away
- being within one metre for one minute or longer without face-to-face contact
- being within two metres of someone for more than 15 minutes
Taking this into consideration, the current precautionary measures on-board the charter flights as well as arrivals processes on St Helena provide assurance that risk of transmission during these processes are very low
- A 10-day period is widely used elsewhere and found to be very effective The 10 days coupled with the requirement to be tested 72-hours prior to departure still presents 13 days of monitoring data available to the Health Services Directorate. This is in line with the recommendation of Public Health England.
No change to COVID-19 testing regime for air travellers
The current testing regime required of persons travelling to St Helena will continue. Persons travelling to St Helena by air will need to provide:
- A negative test result 72 hours prior to departure. Any persons with a positive test result will not be permitted to join the flight.
- A test conducted on arrival to St Helena
- A test on the final day of quarantine. Persons are only released from the requirement to quarantine if they test negative at this point.
The five metre boundary requirement for Home Quarantine to be lifted
- The Home Quarantine requirement of a five metre boundary line outside of the home being used for quarantine has been removed
- Houses will still be clearly marked with the appropriate signage throughout the quarantine period, in order for persons approaching the area to exercise the necessary precautionary measures
- Other home owners/neighbours within the vicinity of the home in quarantine will be informed before the period of quarantine is to take place
- Properties proposed for home quarantine will still be assessed by the Health Services Directorate using their well-tested protocols
- All other requirements under the Home Quarantine Policy must still be adhered to.
72-hour freight delay to be reduced to 24 hours
Strong new evidence confirms that transmission through contact with surfaces is extremely low. Therefore freight quarantine for 72 hours is no longer an appropriate measure to reduce an already low risk of transmission. As a result, the time in which air freight is quarantined will be reduced from 72 hours to 24 hours.
Bubble Quarantine arrangements to be allowed
Bubble arrangements for quarantine have been approved previously. These arrangements will continue. There are two scenarios in which a bubble arrangement may apply.
In the first scenario, a group of arriving passengers who do not normally form part of the same household may choose to quarantine on St Helena together. This is particularly useful for groups of passengers, for example, individuals travelling to St Helena as part of the same project.
In the second scenario, a person or persons arriving to the Island will be allowed to join family or friends on-Island in order to quarantine. This has already proven to provide support and comfort during quarantine. This arrangement is only permissible if the person/s on-Island joining quarantine understand and agree fully to living under quarantine conditions for the entire quarantine period; any circumstances resulting from this period, for example, loss of annual leave and/or finances, are to be accepted as their responsibility.
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10 June 2021