1 November 2022
In October, the Chief Medical Officer Peter Moss advised that St Helena had come to the end of the first period, or wave, of COVID -19 within the community. This resulted in the recent lifting of COVID-19 procedures within all remaining settings of the Health and Social Care Portfolio.
Health Services has recorded a total to date of 1800 persons testing positive for COVID-19. Medical evidence from elsewhere around the world has shown that of those that contract COVID-19, approximately half will be completely asymptomatic, and therefore unlikely to test as they would not be aware that they may have contracted the virus. It is therefore likely that the total number of people on St Helena that have already been affected by COVID-19 is much higher than the official confirmed figure of 1800, and could reasonably assumed to be as high as double that (approximately 3600 people).
The Health and Social Care Portfolio has advised that all COVID-19 specific procedures, protocols and guidance will be kept under review in case there should be a need to reinstate them, such as if there is a significant increase in COVID-19 cases on-Island. The global medical community has recognised that COVID-19 will not yet be completely eradicated and will therefore continue to circulate for years to come, and other territories have experienced several waves of infection, which is also likely to happen here in the future.
Living with COVID
St Helena has now joined the rest of the world and started “Living with COVID”. This means that COVID-19 procedures and protocols have largely been stopped within St Helena Government, private businesses and amongst the general public. Whilst it is individual choice whether or not to continue to observe personal COVID-19 mitigation measures, vaccinated persons are advised that they can now continue their normal routine and habits as usual. Below provides some general advice whilst “Living with COVID”.
Hand and Respiratory Hygiene
The public are advised to continue to practise good hand and respiratory hygiene within their normal daily routines, such as:
- Washing hands regularly.
- Coughing or sneezing into a bent elbow and washing hands thereafter, or disposing of tissues correctly if using one.
Routine testing no longer needed, test only if experiencing symptoms
- ONLY if persons are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should they test for COVID-19.
- There will be no routine testing clinics provided by Health Services (unless there is a need to reinstate this i.e. a significant increase of cases being reported or a known significant wave of COVID-19 being present on the Island).
- COVID-19 testing kits are now available within retail outlets and from Health Services via the reception desk at the General Hospital, the Pharmacy or at the district outpatient clinics.
- Persons who test positive for COVID-19 should still report this to Health Services via telephone number 25888.
- Persons testing positive are advised to stay at home for five days.
- Persons are advised that if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 they should consider self-testing prior to arriving to any care facilities.
Vaccination programme to continue in early 2023
Similar to outbreaks of flus and colds each year, there will be further outbreaks of COVID-19. Recognising outbreak patterns observed elsewhere in the world, it is expected that there will be another wave sometime around the middle of next year.
The health services have ordered the latest bivalent COVID-19 vaccine from the UK This particular type of vaccine is effective specifically against Omicron, as well as older variants of COVID-19. It is planned for another round of the COVID-19 vaccination programme to continue in March 2023. Further details of the vaccination programme will be issued closer to the time.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FCDO has worked closely with SHG on its COVID response and through its Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) COVID-19 Programme for the Overseas Territories has supported St Helena through the provision of COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, PPE, equipment, testing supplies and medical staff, plus ongoing expertise through UKHSA.
1 November 2022