Weekly Client Update – Friday 26 November

Local update

All children, young people and education staff, identified as a direct contact for COVID-19 from a positive case in a nursery, school or college, will no longer be required to take a PCR test from yesterday.

Instead, any student, aged 3 to 18 years old, alongside all educational staff, who are a direct contact from a positive case in an education or nursery setting, will be asked to use Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs), at home, daily for 10 days.

These new measures announced on Wednesday aim to help ease the rising COVID pressures caused by multiple direct contact PCR tests for children and adults in nurseries, schools and colleges and reduce the disruption to teaching and students’ learning. 

The decision to change the policy has been made by Competent Authority Ministers, following the advice of Public Health, in consultation with the Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell (STAC). 

To ensure the new testing requirement is proportionate and not intrusive for younger age groups, children under 3 years old, in nursery settings, will only be required to take 5 Lateral Flow Tests over the 10 day period. All direct contacts from nursery, school and college positive cases will be required to take an LFT every day for 10 days. 

Islanders aged 40 to 49 years old can now book their COVID-19 booster, and 16 and 17-year-olds can book their second COVID-19 vaccine. 

This follows the latest advice issued from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI residents are encouraged to book their appointment as soon as they are eligible as appointments are becoming fully booked approximately one week in advance due to increased demand).

Islanders must ensure six months or more have passed since their second dose was administered by checking the date on their paper COVID Status Certificate. 

Clinical at-risk Islanders aged 40 to 49 can receive their free flu vaccine at the same time as their booster if they have not already received it at their GP or pharmacy. All Islanders aged 50 and above continue to be eligible for a free flu vaccine at the same time as their booster.

All COVID-19 vaccines show a waning immunity with time which is greater with increasing age. The immunity provided from a second COVID-19 dose reduces to around 50-60% efficacy after six months. While this still offers some protection against the virus, the booster dose is a vital part of the vaccination schedule for those who are eligible.

 The Government has welcomed two reports, published on Wednesday 24 November by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), which assess the support given to businesses during Covid-19. C&AG spokesperson Lynn Pamment, found that the business support schemes were developed and implemented at pace, with appropriate consideration given to risk. 

Her reports also note that the schemes were not accessed by businesses to the degree anticipated by Government, recommend that post-payment audit checks be conducted as soon as possible and that the schemes are formally evaluated against their planned objectives.

The Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture, Senator Lyndon Farnham, said: “From the start of the pandemic, it was vital that livelihoods were protected and the Comptroller and Auditor General has recognised that we acted quickly to ensure that Jersey businesses could continue to operate in very difficult conditions. We will consider what we can learn from the report’s findings and will continue to work with the C&AG in assessing Government’s response to Covid-19”.

 “When developing these schemes, we prepared for worst-case scenarios, and it’s good news that they were accessed by fewer businesses than we anticipated. The worst-case scenario was largely avoided because of how Government, the businesses community and Islanders more generally responded to the pandemic. For some sectors, which are still affected, Government support will continue to help them to continue trading until spring of 2022, and then return to safe normality.”

 Yesterday assisted dying was approved in principle by the Island’s politicians, in a landmark vote for the States. Following a two day debate on the issue, States members voted by 36 to 10 today in support of the principle of assisted dying meaning that Jersey is the first place in the British isles to do so. 

Draft legislation is expected to be brought back to politicians for the Assembly to decide on. The proposition followed a citizen’s jury report, which showed that 78% of jury members supported assisted dying for adults living with a terminal illness or unbearable suffering, subject to safeguards.

And finally, an Islander born before First World War turns 108 today. Alice de la Haye lived through both the First and Second World Wars and has eight grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and seven great-great-grandchildren. 

Born on 26 November 1913 in St Mary, Mrs de la Haye, née Maud, is also known by her nickname, Midge. She married her teenage sweetheart, Albert de la Haye, in 1935. She went on to give birth to three boys in the space of five years. Two of her sons have died, but one still lives in the UK and is 85 years old.

When asked the secret of a long healthy life Mrs De la Haye said, a daily garlic pill and a little tipple on Mondays are the ingredients for a long life!

Mixed markets

The FTSE 100 index fell 243 points, or 3.3%, to 7066 points today, its lowest level in six weeks.

IAG, the parent company of British Airways, plummeted 20% to their lowest level since November 2020 at the start of trade. It has partially rebounded but is still down 10.5%.

The manufactures and services jet engines, Rolls-Royce, is currently the worst FTSE 100 performer, down 12%, as a result of travel restrictions placed by England on South Africa and five neighbouring nations.

Hotel operators are in decline, with Intercontinental Hotels Group and Whitbread both down more than 8%. 

On the smaller FTSE 250 index, airline EasyJet is down 11.5%, while cruise line Carnival is down 15%. SSP Group, which operates Upper Crust and Caffè Ritazza restaurants in airports, is down 14%.

European markets are sharply lower today with shares in France off the most. The CAC 40 is down 3.60% while Germany’s DAX is lower by 2.85%.

U.S. stock futures slumped today as global markets plunged. S&P 500 futures fell 84 points, or 1.8%, to 4,615, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures dropped 789 points, or 2.2%, to 34960, while Nasdaq-100 futures fell 1.2%, or 193 points, to 16,173.

Asian markets finished broadly lower today with shares in Hong Kong leading the region. The Hang Seng is down 2.60% while Japan’s Nikkei 225 is off 2.53% and China’s Shanghai Composite is lower by 0.56%.

Flights from South Africa to UK halted

Flights from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini, and Zimbabwe to the UK will be halted from midday today until 4 am on Sunday, during which time new visitors will be compelled to quarantine in hotels.

According to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, the UK is taking a “safety first approach” with its travel prohibition on the new COVID variant. In reaction to the new coronavirus type, the European Union is also planning an “emergency brake” on aviation travel from southern Africa.

The new COVID-19 variant is said to be far more serious than the previous ones, according to the UK Health Security Agency’s top medical adviser. 

No cases of the variant have been reported so far in the UK and anyone who has travelled from one of these countries in the past 10 days is being contacted to come forward for a test.

There is a great concern, however, that it could wreak further havoc on international business and travel saw more than £65bn wiped off the UK stock market in early trading this morning.

London tube strike

London is still experiencing a 24-hour strike on 5 of its tube lines at the moment which naturally causes problems for passengers.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union are on strike over new shift patterns.

The Victoria, Central, Northern, Jubilee, and Piccadilly lines are affected after RMT drivers were advised not to clock in from 4.30 am on Friday.

It has been reported that 58% of usual Tube services are operational. However, limited service is running on all lines.

On Wednesday this week, TfL finance chief, Mr Kilonback, told the TfL finance committee that the company could be obliged to “close a line or part of a line, or make minor cutbacks across the entire [Underground] network.”