The Indian variant of Covid-19 has been detected in Jersey for the first time. Deputy medical officer of Health Dr Ivan Muscat said that while the version of the variant of the virus was ‘more transmissible’ studies had shown that the available vaccines were effective against it. The positive cases of the variant were found among 52 samples that had been sent to the UK. The Government said yesterday that the carriers were well and in isolation and confirmed that the number of cases detected were ‘very small’ however they would not reveal how many cases had been identified.
Dr Muscat said ‘Our vaccination programme, in conjunction with public health measures, regular testing and contract tracing remains key to controlling the Pandemic. Figures released earlier this week confirmed that over 100,000 vaccinations had now been administered and 68% of all adults over the age of 18 had received their first vaccination and over half the Island’s adult population (43,656) had now received both vaccinations. Head of the Island’s vaccination programme, Becky Sherrington said ‘It is great to see that half of Islanders over 18 years-old are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. I encourage everyone to keep this up so we can continue the positive progress that is keeping Jersey safe.” Jersey currently has six known positive cases of Covid-19.
It was also announced that the British and Irish lions could receive their second Covid vaccinations en masse in Jersey as part of a ‘fast track’ programme ahead of their 2021 tour. The UK Government offered the playing squad special dispensation to jump the queue for their first injections which were carried out at a vaccination centre in London earlier this week in what coach Warren Gatland described as ‘a show of unity.’ The Government of Jersey are believed to be considering the logistics in regard to follow up appointments and second jabs as the Lions will set up their pre South African tour training camp in Jersey between the 13-24 June.
As part of changes to the Island’s safer travel policy to come into force from today, England Wales, Scotland and Northern Island will be classed as single regions, rather than broken down at local authority and lower tier levels as they have been previously. England and Wales are broadly green from today along with Guernsey and the Isle of Man, meaning that arrivals from those areas will only have to isolate until they receive their ‘day zero’ test result. Scotland and Northern Island will be amber, requiring isolation until the result of the day 5 test. However 15 areas which have seen rising cases and concerns of the Indian variant have been classified as red comprising of ten in England and five in Scotland. Chief Minister John Le Fondre said ‘the emergency brake powers will be used in addition to the 15 ‘areas of concern’ as and when appropriate but 48 hours notice will be given in regard to any further changes and red classifications will remain in place for a minimum of 14 days’.
Any Islanders who have received both jabs will be eligible for reduced testing and isolation requirements when returning to Jersey from today under new vaccination passport rules. If arriving from a green or amber zone passengers will require just the one test on arrival but will not have to isolate until they receive their result.
International travel also resumes from today with Jersey’s Government mirroring the UK Government’s classification meaning places such as Portugal, Israel and Iceland will be classed as green however Jurisdictions with which Jersey has direct connections, including France and the republic of Ireland, Madeira and Majorca, will be assessed on a Jersey Government basis which includes a regional approach for France and Ireland. As a result direct flights to Majorca, given its green status, will resume from 5 June.
London stocks have edged higher in early trade as investors eyed the unveiling of US President Joe Biden’s spending plans, which are expected to be in the region of $6 trillion. The Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 Index was up 0.4% at 7,044.50 in quiet trade, with a Bank Holiday weekend ahead and half term next week. It was balanced out by losses from companies like Ocado Group and Rolls Royce. Ocado’s shares are down more than 15% year-to-date, having initially climbed more than 25% in January. So far, Rolls Royce is also negative in 2021, despite the boost mass vaccination is giving to international air travel.
In the US, the S&P 500 was up 0.2% yesterday, Dow Jones Industrial Average opened flat, and the Nasdaq 100 index was up 0.3%. Ford’s share price jumped to 9%, and continued to climb, and is now up by more than 50% year-to-date, and is more than 50% above its pre-pandemic share price high.
European stock markets have just hit a record high as confidence in the economic recovery increases. The Europe-wide The STOXX Europe 600 Index has gained 0.45% this morning to 448.45 points, a new record. Every sector is higher, led by financials, industrial stocks and utilities.
Bitcoin fell around 4% since yesterday, dipping just below $38,000. Some of the largest declines in the top 10 were registered by XRP (Real Time Gross Settlement System), which fell around 6%.
UK to set up heating systems
The UK government intends to spend £45m on citywide systems and other technologies to reduce carbon output. Surplus heat from factories, incinerator plants and disused mine shafts will be used to warm thousands of buildings, from private homes to hospitals in order for the government to fund low-carbon heating.
The government plans to spend £30m to help set up these heat networks across cities including London, Glasgow and Manchester.
Opportunity for economic transformation
British employers have called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this week to overhaul regulation and tax rules to help them meet the challenges of Brexit, the post-pandemic recovery and preparing for a net-zero carbon economy.
The Confederation of British Industry has said that the country now has the perfect opportunity for economic transformation after Covid-19, and to set the stage for its growth. They believe that by prioritising investment, the creation of economic clusters around the country to cultivate innovation and better skills training, it could help release £700b of extra economic growth.
Banking scams costing millions
Shocking statistics have emerged according to research by the consumer body “Which?” that shows More than £700,000 is lost to bank transfer scams every day, which works out at £491 a minute. Scams typically involved email accounts being hacked in order to con individuals and businesses into sending money to bank accounts operated by criminals posing as genuine customers.
A total of £412m has been lost across 189,000 cases of bank transfer fraud between the introduction of a voluntary industry code on reimbursement in May 2019 and the end of 2020, according to figures from the banking body UK Finance – equating to £707,000 a day, or £29,000 an hour.
New safety campaign for safer Jersey beaches
Here in Jersey, along with the return of the RNLI’s full patrol service on the Island’s beaches this weekend, a new safety campaign is being launched in Jersey. Islanders are being urged to visit a lifeguarded beach when taking trips to the coast, as beaches are expected to be busier than ever before, given that the ease of travel restrictions will see a surge of people flocking to the beaches this summer.