Coronavirus (Covid-19): Live Q&A

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

What is a Coronavirus?

What is a Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses found in both animals and humans. Some infect people and are known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

What is Coronavirus (Covid-19)?

A novel coronavirus is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans.  The Coronavirus (Covid-19) is a novel coronavirus and had not previously been detected before the outbreak was reported in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

How dangerous is Coronavirus (Covid-19)?

As with other respiratory illnesses, infection with Covid-19 can cause mild symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever. It can be more severe for some persons and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties. More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as diabetes and heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.

How does the virus spread?

Covid-19 is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through contact with an infected person through respiratory droplets generated when a person, for example, coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. It is important that everyone practice good respiratory hygiene. For example, sneeze or cough into a flexed elbow, or use a tissue and discard it immediately into a closed bin. It is also very important for people to wash their hands regularly with either alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

How long does it take for the virus to transfer from one person to the next?

The latest information from medical experts suggests that it takes around 15 minutes for the virus to pass from one person to another, though this might vary.

Protect yourself and others from Coronavirus

Wash your hands frequently

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub if your hands are not visibly dirty.

Practice respiratory hygiene

When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue to prevent the spread of germs and viruses. Discard tissue immediately into a closed bin and clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

Hands touch many surfaces which can be contaminated with a virus. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands, you can transfer a virus from the surface to yourself.

Social/ Physical Distancing

There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on St Helena. With capacity to now control arrivals, provide increased medical care and specialist testing for COVID-19 on-Island, the IEG has agreed that current Social/Physical Distancing advice can be suspended. If in the future a case of the virus (outside of Bradley’s Camp) is identified on the Island the IEG will be able to re-introduce the measure.

Organisations may now resume their normal activities or social events.

Is COVID-19 on St Helena?

Is COVID-19 on St Helena?

We wish to reassure you that at this time there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the Island.

What is the threat of Covid-19 reaching St Helena?

The threat is being taken seriously by all agencies involved and preventative measures are in place and the situation continuously monitored.

If the virus is detected on the Island, what impacts can we expect?

If the virus is detected on the Island, we can expect the likely impacts of infection:

For the majority of those infected this will be a mild illness with symptoms such as a cough, fever, and little else.

For a small number, potentially between 5-10% of those infected, illness may be felt more seriously, leading to more severe ill effects.

For an even smaller number, likely to be between 1-3% of who become infected, the impact could be extremely serious.

Those over 65 years of age, and those with chronic heart or chest disease (including asthma needing regular treatment), diabetes, cancer and other immune related disorders are the individuals most at risk of developing serious complications as a result of contracting COVID-19. The Children & Adults Social Care Directorate are developing and implementing additional measures to protect our elderly and vulnerable people.

What will happen if a person is affected?

Bradley’s is the isolation and quarantine accommodation for arrivals to St Helena, equipped with an ICU. The Camp is able to provide treatment if needed, and the Health Directorate is in close contact with Public Health England should additional resources need to be requested.

Health and Wellbeing

What is the process for people with flu-like symptoms in terms of going to the General Hospital or Clinics?

If you become ill with any flu-like symptoms, similar to those of Covid-19, do not go to the General Hospital or any clinic. Instead, please call the hospital for advice on this dedicated phone number: 25707 . Self-isolate at home and await advice from Hospital staff.

There is a separate facility for people with flu-like symptoms similar to those of Covid-19, where they can be assessed separately to others requiring medical attention for other varied reasons.

What should I do if COVID-19 is expected or confirmed on St Helena?

Don’t panic – this is a mild, self-limiting infection for almost all of us.

Practice good hygiene.

Stay away from crowds and keep your distance from others.

Keep informed via our regular updates.

Keep up other healthy lifestyle practices. The healthier you are, the healthier your immune system is.

If you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 i.e. runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever, self-isolate as soon as possible and call, do not visit, the hospital using the dedicated phone number: 25707

Should I be scared of Covid-19?

It is only human nature to feel a bit scared and uneasy with the effect the virus is having globally. The Health Directorate’s advice is to be cautious, but not paranoid. Ensure you are following the latest safety precautions – washing your hands and practicing coughing and sneezing etiquette.

Downloadable Link

Helping Children with Worries

COVID-19 Monitoring and Prevention on St Helena

Who is monitoring the situation?

St Helena Government (SHG) continues to monitor possible threats to the community and to prepare control arrangements for Coronavirus (COVID-19). The preventative measures on the Island are under constant review by SHG to ensure that they are working and new information is taken into account.   

The Incident Executive Group (IEG) meets regularly to review the Island’s preparedness, the latest travel developments and St Helena’s physical requirements.

Keeping St Helena safe is our priority and we would like to reassure you that we have deployed all resources into preparing and responding to any threat to the Island from COVID-19.

The situation is constantly being monitored to ensure that the preventive measures in place are working, and processes are regularly updated to reflect changing circumstances. The Health Directorate continues to work closely with Public Health England and the World Health Organization on the spread of COVID-19 and we are doing all we can to prevent the virus from reaching the Island.

A Command Structure is in place to ensure that key parties are ready to respond in the event COVID-19 reaches St Helena.

The IEG has three phases of planning to manage the COVID-19 threat:

Prevent – Keep COVID-19 off-Island

Contain – Limit the spread of Coronavirus on St Helena

Delay – Reduce the number of serious cases

We are in the Prevent Stage, and all resources have been deployed to ensure we remain at this stage for as long as possible.

What preventative measures are in place on-Island?

All new arrivals to St Helena will continue to be subject to legally required 14-day quarantine at Bradley’s Camp or another suitable location as directed by a Proper Officer. New arrivals are tested for COVID-19 after the 14 days quarantine as an extra reassurance.

Anyone on-Island who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 (including fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, aches, fatigue) should call the Hospital on tel: 25707 and self- isolate. Please do NOT go to the Hospital.

Marine vessels are allowed to enter port and the crew subsequently permitted to enter St Helena only after they have completed 14 days quarantine, display no COVID-19 symptoms and as an extra reassurance have tested negative for COVID-19 on the fourteenth day of quarantine

The 14 days quarantine period for those arriving on marine vessels will now be defined as the absence of COVID-19 for 14 days. The 14 days will be counted to  include days spent at sea (based on official ship’s records),  days  spent  quarantining on a vessel in St Helena waters or  days spent quarantining  at Bradley’s Camp  or another suitable  location. This is similar to arrangements in some other overseas territories

A mutual recognition exemption from quarantine may be possible for those countries and territories that St Helena recognises as COVID-19 free (e.g. Ascension, Tristan da Cunha, and Falkland Islands). This option will be explored further with at first Ascension Island in the coming weeks. Such an arrangement relies on the other territory (ies) agreeing to recognise St Helena’s COVID-19 free status too. This mutual recognition arrangement is foreseen to be for those individuals who have completed a 14-day or longer quarantine period at these territories without any infection. Passengers would still be tested for COVID-19  on arrival at St Helena as an extra reassurance measure.

What protective measures are in place for Hospital Staff as well as the staff from the private sector cleaning company that is tasked with cleaning the General Hospital?

Staff at the General Hospital are using appropriate personal protective equipment and are briefed regularly on the latest precautionary and protective measures.

Cleaners must ensure that they follow the safety precaution advice of regularly washing hands and using the catch it, bin it, kill it, method when coughing and sneezing. The cleaning company will meet with the Director and Assistant Director of Health to discuss any questions and concerns they might have.

Travelling to and from St Helena

Why has St Helena Airport remained open?

We have a small population with access to finite health resources and are therefore very reliant on external health and physical resources to support residents. 

At a time of increasing pressure on the Island’s health services due to the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential that a swift link to the rest of the world is available in order that the Island can be readily supported in its efforts to repel and manage the threat of COVID-19. 

The Airport is the only means to get medical supplies, test kits, equipment and people to the Island in an expeditious manner, and therefore it is essential that the Airport remains open to permit this.  Closing the Airport would close off this link and could therefore make a difficult and challenging situation even worse by not getting medical care to the population in sufficient time or quantities. It would also end all medevacs from the Island.  As such, it is the intention of SHG and St Helena Airport Limited to keep the Airport ready for operations. 

Keeping the Airport open also allows for the necessary maintenance and calibration regime to remain in place. Vital airport navigation equipment needs to be regularly monitored and maintained, the training of staff is required to maintain their certification and accreditation, and the Airport itself needs to remain open to remain certificated. 

When is the next scheduled flight?

South Africa has relaxed their lockdown restrictions to level 3, which allows limited domestic flights within the country. International flights are not expected to resume until the country moves to level 1 or 0 – when this will happen is currently not known. It was considered by the Incident Executive Group (IEG) as reasonable to assume that scheduled commercial air services to the Island will not commence within the next three months.

If you are concerned about departing or returning to St Helena and have not yet registered with the Tourist Office please contact: christina.plato@tourism.co.sh or call: (00290) 22158 to register your details.

I’ve heard there is going to be another repatriation flight from the UK, is that true?

St Helena Government (SHG) has been notified by Titan Airways that the Boeing 757-200 aircraft to be used for the repatriation charter flight to St Helena is cleared for operations having experienced some minor technical issues following a bird strike.

The flight will depart the UK on Wednesday, 29 July 2020, (48 hours later than originally scheduled) arriving at St Helena Airport, following an overnight stop at Ascension Island, at 1pm on Thursday, 30 July, weather permitting. The flight will overnight on St Helena before returning to the UK via Accra on Friday, 31 July, departing the Island at 8am local time.

The revised flight schedule is as follows:

DateFlight NoDeparture TimeDeparture AirportArrival AirportArrival Time
29JUL20ZT68910735 UTC 0835 LocalLondon Stansted EGSS / STNGran Canaria GCLP / LPA1200 UTC 1300 Local
29JUL20ZT68911300 UTC 1400 LocalGran Canaria GCLP / LPAAscension Island FHAW / ASI1830 UTC 1830 Local
30JUL20ZT68921050 UTC 1050 LocalAscension Island FHAW / ASISt Helena FHSH / HLE1300 UTC 1300 Local
31JUL20ZT68930800 UTC 0800 LocalSt Helena FHSH / HLEAccra DGAA / ACC1135 UTC 1135 Local
31JUL20ZT68941235 UTC 1235 LocalAccra DGAA / ACCLondon Stansted EGSS / STN1930 UTC 2030 Local

The public is reminded that St Helena Airport remains closed to visitors and non-travellers. Passengers arriving on the repatriation flight will be transported directly from the Airport to commence their 14 days of compulsory quarantine. Likewise only departing passengers will be permitted to enter the Airport precinct.  Those transporting passengers to the Airport will be asked to drop them off outside the terminal.

Is the repatriation flight full or am I still able to get on it?

Persons who have been offered a seat on the flight have now been contacted by the Tourist Office. An information pack is on its way to each person.  Persons requiring further details should contact Christina Plato at the Tourist Office via email: christina.plato@tourism.co.sh or on tel. +290 22158.

Whilst it has been possible to accommodate the majority of travel requests on the repatriation flight, we are aware that names continue to be added to the travel request list.  If you are one of the persons who has been offered a seat on the flight, please confirm your booking with the Tourist Office at the earliest opportunity.  If you are contemplating declining to travel on the flight, your seat can then be made available to someone else.  Should seats become available, these will be offered to those who have pre-registered on the travel request list.  If you have pre-registered, you will be contacted directly should a seat become available. 

How much is a ticket on the repatriation flight?

The cost of the flight ticket from the UK to St Helena is £950.00. The same price will be charged for the flight from St Helena to the UK.

Where will passengers on the repatriation flight be quarantined?

All passengers arriving on the flight must undergo the 14-day compulsory quarantine requirement and will be transported directly from the Airport to their quarantine accommodation. Transit passengers and aircraft crew overnighting on the Island will also undergo quarantine until their departure the following day.

  • All passengers required to undertake 14-days of quarantine will be accommodated at the Bradley’s Camp Quarantine Facility
  • Transit passengers from Ascension Island will also be accommodated at Bradley’s Camp for the overnight stay
  • As Ascension Island is currently COVID-19 free, Ascension Island passengers including transit passengers will have been segregated from the UK passengers on board the flight and will similarly be segregated and kept at maximum distance from UK passengers while staying at Bradley’s Camp
  • Food delivery, waste disposal and other services at Bradley’s Camp will be kept separate for the Ascension and UK passengers.

The 10 crew members of the Aircraft under regulatory requirements must have a minimum standard of overnight accommodation and cannot stay at Bradley’s Camp as the Camp is not regarded by Titan Airways as suitable accommodation for the crew. It has therefore been decided that the Mantis Hotel will be used to accommodate the overnight crew.  

Why is the Mantis being used to quarantine the overnight crew. Is this safe?

A complete risk assessment and infection control review of the Mantis Hotel has been carried out by the Health Directorate. Crew members will be required to quarantine overnight in the Mantis Hotel. This means they will remain in the Hotel overnight, they will be monitored and they will not mix with the community. Mitigation measures include crew members wearing face masks during transport to and from the Mantis, maintaining zero contact with support staff at the Hotel and keeping the recommended physical distancing.

Following the departure of the crew the Hotel will be sealed and rooms will be left for 72 hours before cleaning.

I am arriving to St Helena on the repatriation flight and will be subject by law to undergo 14 days of compulsory quarantine. Will I have to pay for this?

St Helena Government (SHG) has agreed and published a Quarantine Facility Charging Policy which sets out the charges for the use of quarantine facilities on St Helena during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Policy is now available on the SHG website at: https://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/government/public-information/.

The following fees shall be charged under this policy for quarantine:

  • Persons aged 17 or older will be charged £30.00 per day (or in the case of persons under the age of 17, £15.00 per day) for every day they are required to quarantine, providing:
    • They have St Helenian status and are ordinarily resident on the Island
    • They have St Helenian status and can provide proof of contract of employment for at least one year on St Helena or are arriving with a bona fide intention to live on St Helena for at least one year from the date of arrival providing evidence of this intention
    • Arrives on St Helena to fulfil a contract of employment of at least one year and can provide proof of contract of employment
    • They have St Helenian status and are ordinarily resident on Ascension Island or the Falkland Islands and are coming to take leave on St Helena.
  • All other persons who do not meet the above criteria will be charged at £60.00 per day
    • Persons in this category who are returning to the Island on compassionate grounds where they are returning to visit a terminally ill relative or following the death of a relative may apply for a 50% reduction in the fee providing they can provide evidence to support their request.

A person requiring medical treatment while in quarantine will be charged as per the normal Health Fees & Charges.

Exemptions

The following persons are exempted from paying fees for quarantine:

  • A patient returning from overseas medical treatment arranged by the St Helena Health Directorate
  • A person returning with a patient from medical treatment who was approved by the Health Directorate to be the official carer of the person referred for overseas medical treatment
  • A dependent who for family reasons was required to accompany a carer of a patient returning from medical treatment. A dependent person in this case refers to a child under the age of 17 years.

All fees will be charged at the end of a person’s period of quarantine and will be paid to SHG. These fees do not represent full cost recovery but is a contribution to the overall cost of providing quarantine facilities.

Will there be future charter flights?

SHG continues to investigate options for further charter flights.  If you have a requirement to travel over the coming months, please register your interest with Christina Plato at the Tourist Office

Have a flight booked to St Helena on the scheduled service?

The advice currently remains that all air arrivals to St Helena are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine at Bradley’s.  The Health Directorate continues to work with Public Health England on the recommended period of quarantine and the period of quarantine is in place to protect the Island community from a potential threat of COVID-19.   

SHG acknowledges that many people have booked to travel to the Island, however being able to travel to St Helena heavily depends on current travel restrictions in South Africa and the origin of travel.

SHG will review its current status and operations on a regular basis.  Any changes will be dependent on a lot of factors that are currently not known (i.e international flights opening up, testing equipment etc).  

Unfortunately during these uncertain times we cannot inform you what will happen in the future.

What advice do you have for people planning to travel to or from a country, or an area of a country, where Covid-19 has been identified?

Currently, entry to St Helena is restricted to Saints and residents. No one sector of the economy or public service is immune from the downturn in income to the Island, with the tourism sector the most visibly impacted at the present time. Many countries around the world are now beginning to find ways with precautions to re-open their borders to business and non-resident visitors.

Taking this into account the IEG has agreed that Entry requirements to St Helena will be amended to permit any foreign national to be allowed to enter St Helena, subject to the established immigration rules, quarantine regulations and testing requirements

All new air arrivals to St Helena will be subject to compulsory quarantine for 14 days.

What about medical referrals?

South Africa continues to accept only urgent and life threatening medical evacuation cases and no accompanying family members.

The Health Directorate is still seeking other options to facilitate medical referrals and the public will be kept updated when more information is known.  

What about Yachts?

Marine vessels including yachts will be allowed to enter port and the crew subsequently permitted to enter St Helena after they have completed 14 days quarantine, display no COVID-19 symptoms and as an extra reassurance have tested negative for COVID-19 on the fourteenth day of quarantine

The 14 days quarantine period for those arriving on marine vessels will now be defined as the absence of COVID-19 for 14 days. The 14 days will be counted to  include days spent at sea (based on official ship’s records),  days spent  quarantining on a vessel in St Helena waters or  days spent quarantining  at Bradley’s Camp  or another suitable  location. This is similar to arrangements in some other overseas territories

How  about the MV Helena?

The MV Helena service must continue. It is the Island’s lifeline. We will be reviewing the process of managing crew contact on a zero interaction basis.

International shipping is continuing around the world and Cape Town Port continues to operate, but on a reduced scale.

What about future supplies for the Island?

International shipping is continuing around the world and Cape Town port continues to operate, but on a reduced scale.

Self-Isolation

I keep hearing references to ‘self-isolate’ but what does that mean?

Self-isolation or staying at home is an effective precautionary measure to protect those around you – your family, friends, and colleagues – from contracting COVID-19. It means taking simple, common-sense steps to avoid close contact with other people as much as possible, like you would with the seasonal flu virus. We know it’s a stressful time, but taking these measures will help protect you, your family and the St Helena community from COVID-19.

If you have been asked to self-isolate due to possible COVID-19 infection i.e. displaying symptoms of new continuous cough or high temperature or have been in close contact with a possible COVID-19 infected person, you should remain at home for 14 days until you are well. Self-isolation can be difficult and frustrating. These simple steps will help to make self-isolation easier:

Plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure that you can successfully stay at home.

Ask your employer, friends and family to help you get the things you need to stay at home.

Stay at least two metres (about three steps) away from other people in your home if possible.

Sleep alone, if possible.

Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water, or use hand sanitiser.

Stay away from vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, as much as possible.

Think about and plan how you can get access to food and other supplies such as medications that you will need during this period.

Ask friends or family to drop off anything you need. Make sure any deliveries are left outside your home for you to collect.

Make sure that you keep in touch with friends and family over the phone or through social media.

Think about things you can do during your time at home. People who have successfully completed a period of staying at home have kept themselves busy with activities such as cooking, reading, gardening and watching films.

When you are feeling better, remember that physical exercise can be good for your wellbeing.

If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 14 days, contact the St Helena Coronavirus/Flu hotline on 25707. For a medical emergency dial 911.

Self-Isolation – why is it so important?

Self-isolation is a legal requirement and means – the separation of a person from any other person in such a manner as to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the following locations:

At a person’s home, at a hospital; or at another suitable placed as directed by a Proper Officer.

If you fail to comply with the requirements of the regulations then you may be detained and placed in isolation.

We would like to stress that this social responsibility should be taken seriously – to keep the virus off the Island we all need to work together. Members of the public who have been instructed to self-isolate should therefore comply. Anyone aware of someone who is breaking their self-isolation should inform the Hospital or Police Headquarters immediately.

We are taking seriously the penalties related to self-isolation and compliance. Penalties are being reviewed and increased and will be applied to people who violate the requirement to self-isolate.

Self-Isolation Downloads

Patient Advice Sheet for Self-Isolation 

Self-Isolation Poster 

What is the difference between self-isolation and quarantine?

Quarantine is different from self-isolation as it provides a higher level of monitoring where those quarantined are not only physically separated from the community, but closely monitored to ensure they do not have contact with others. Quarantine means a higher level of control.

If you are concerned about being in contact with an individual who is in self-isolation please contact Kate Heneghan at the Health Directorate on telephone number 22500 or by email: kate.heneghan@sainthelena.gov.sh.

Volunteering and offering to help

How can I help?

Strong practical measures like practicing good cough and hand hygiene will help us to prevent the virus getting here, however it is impossible to eliminate the risk 100%. Therefore as a community, we are all in this together and we have to take sensible precautionary measures to protect ourselves and those around us – we all have a collective responsibility to each other.

COVID-19. Can you help? 

Business Support

The UK Government has procured medical equipment and support for each Overseas Territory, and has also made a commitment to stand by the OTs in the long run as they deal with the impacts of the pandemic.

COVID-19 is currently having an impact on the local economy, how is St Helena Government supporting local businesses?  

Executive Council has approved a second phase of hardship support effective from 1 July 2020 for local businesses in the hospitality sector impacted by COVID-19. The aim of this support is to keep people in the hospitality sector on-Island in employment.

Recognising that a lower number of visitors typically arrive on St Helena during the winter months, this second phase of hardship support is targeted at tourist accommodation providers,  tourism activity providers and restaurants – the sectors most highly impacted by the disruption in scheduled commercial flights.

Due to the evolving situation, SHG will continue to evaluate the impacts of COVID-19 response measures and this Support Package will be reassessed in September 2020.

What type of support is available?

The following support packages are available up until end-September 2020. Each eligible business can make one application.  Where several businesses are under the same ownership, or operating out of one building, the funding is limited to one grant.

Hardship Support

Hardship Support is available to owners of companies and sole proprietorships for whom more than half of their annual income is earned in the following sectors:

  • Tourist accommodation providers (Note: Tourism Accommodation means premises that are rented out on a short-term basis (i.e. 30 days or less) and is currently unoccupied)
  • Tourism activity providers, including both land- and marine-based
  • Restaurants (dine-in establishments).

Essential Cost Assistance Grants

Affected businesses can also apply for an Essential Cost Assistance Grant of up to a maximum of £500 towards essential costs for business premises, i.e. rent, utilities, internet costs or business insurance.  Businesses in these specific sectors, will need to submit with the application form, the relative invoice or receipt if payment had already been made, for the period July-September 2020, bearing in mind that refunds to businesses need to be undertaken by no later than 30 September 2020.

Full details of both the Hardship Support Package and the Essential Cost Assistance Grants can be found on the SHG website at the following link: https://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/government/public-information/

What about support for extended sick leave and forced business closure?

As the Island continues to remain COVID-19 free with no scheduled commercial flights to the Island and the relaxing of physical (social) distancing measures, the previous Extended Sick Leave and Enforced Business Closure Support Schemes from SHG and the Adjustment Scheme from ESH will not be continued.

Keeping up to date

How will we be kept up to date?

There is a raft of information available online and through various media channels however we encourage you to use official and authoritative channels for information. Please look out for our regular preparedness updates and Press Releases. Also visit this online Q&A for all the latest news:  https://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/coronavirus-COVID-19-live-qa/.

Anyone with concerns on a particular issue relating to COVID-19 should contact communitycovid-19@sainthelena.gov.sh or call the Castle switchboard on tel: 22470 where you will be signposted to a relevant officer.

Press Conferences/Releases

Press Conferences

Press Releases

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