A potential role for Digital Jersey in post lockdown

Jersey needs to develop a plan and then one issue that mostly Policy Makers and commentators will can agree on is that Digital and Tech will be at the heart both dimensions.

Exit from Lock Down Strategies | In Context 

A direct quote the UK’s Dominic Raab the de-facto acting Prime Minister as First Secretary said yesterday’s, at 5pm on 16 April at the Daily Press Briefing:

“The worst thing that we can do right now is to ease up too soon and allow for a second peak of the virus to hit“

In Jersey, at 2:30pm on the same day during more than an hour of remarks and Q&A’s, the Chief Minister’s first live interview for a number of of weeks, there was no explanation of a ‘Jersey Exit Strategy’. 

Germany, Italy, USA and other countries – even Guernsey are at various stages out of rolling out announcing measures to loosen the Lock Down. The loosening of Lock Downs have two dimensions as the crisis itself:

  1. Health measures 
  2. Economic, Business and Fiscal measures

It is suggested that there should be a concerted multifaceted and boldly commensurate response which matches the issue created by the Lockdown and which is within Jersey’s unique ability to be able to respond.  

Whilst by the debate on the role of the The World Health Organisation (WHO) will continue, as the only supra-national body that deals with Health Issues, they have issued guidance for use across the globe (see below). 

So whilst Jersey is not alone, it needs to develop a plan and then one issue that mostly Policy Makers and commentators will can agree on is that Digital and Tech will be at the heart both dimensions. 

The respected and widely read ‘Economist’ wrote in the same week as the above was stated that the UK (and others) were ‘Fumbling for the exit strategy’. They stated that, in their view the UK was:  

Overwhelmed by the crisis, most governments are ill-prepared for what comes next[i]

[i] The Economist | 16 May 2020 | Fumbling for the exit strategy

Discussion of Exit Strategies

Ideas for exiting COVID-19 lockdowns appear to be spreading faster than the virus ever did. 

  • Spain has let builders return to work;
  • Italy has opened stationers and bookshops; 
  • Denmark is allowing children back into nurseries and primary schools; 
  • South Africa’s opposition is calling for a relaxing and a ‘Smart lockdown’; 
  • In the USA The President has delegated and encouraging de-locking decisions to State Governors. 

Every country is different, but certain things are clear. 

Governments need to explain – as explored in Part 1 – that the world is not about to return to normal. Without a vaccine or a therapy, life will be constrained and economies will remain depressed, but there are measures that can be taken. 

See below for the Five Point Plan WHO adapted for Jersey. 

Tech is at the heart of four out of five of the ‘must do’ initiatives. 

It is suggested that Jersey should apply commensurate resources sufficient to deliver this otherwise  there is a serious risk of mistakes such as testing will be repeated.

The need to devise  Business and Economic ‘Exit Plan’ is now urgent.

The alarming cost of the hard lockdown is becoming clearer and it is likely to be longer in Jersey increasingly the cost. 

What should they do?

Jersey needs to urgently produce a set of scenarios and develop a menu of options. 

Just like the 2013 Mckinsey Report there were a range of initiatives worked on the costs of each measure with the benefits they could bring.  

The returns will be different for for different sectors in terms of values but they will be individually importantly to safeguard the Island. 

The World Health Organisation Five Steps 

Quote 

“Managing this part-locked-in, part-let-out depends on testing. Testing can tell governments about the running rate of infections and which measures work and which do not. It isolates new cases, allowing the tracing of their contacts, helping arrest the spread of the disease. The better the testing, the less all-embracing the social distancing needs to be, because infected people are routinely removed from the population—in theory it could replace distancing altogether.” 

Economist 16th April 2020

The WHO strategy document reveals Five key things countries should do to get in place before relaxing lockdown without sparking a second wave of COVID-19 virus.

  1. Mass testing plus temperature checks

Whilst Jersey is scrambling to increase its testing capacity and rollout, it is vital because having brought the virus under control, probably ministers and decision-makers are going to need to know who has it for opening up things again.

Detested will be perhaps most important are the ‘PCR’ or ‘Do you have it’ test. The reason cited is early studies suggest that people suffer only a mild version of the virus (most of us) may not produce many antibodies and may not have immunity. This means that even if super sensitive antibody test can be developed they may not be of the use that many people believe that they are. 

Further research suggests that a significant proportion of infection caused by people who are pre-symptomatic. This is estimated to be in the region of 45% of people in lockdown in developed countries. This falls to around 25% in normal times.

Only PCR tests identify this crucial group.

This is the reason why that temperature checks have become widespread. They are not full proof but when they are used at doors to shops and other in close spaces they can identify cases that have the ability to ‘super-spread’. 

What could Jersey do to help Ports of Jersey, Airlines, Private Aviation and Condor Ferries to put this in place?

  1. Special testing at all ports

The economy can only fire up again when ports open up. This is especially true of an island. The WHO recommends a special focus on all ports of entry to prevent new cases entering the country. In China and lots of Asia, new arrivals tested at major ports.

Yesterday Emirates became the first airlines of the passengers pre-flight coronavirus testing, perhaps providing a template for future travel in and out of the island. The tests were done in the terminal in Dubai with the results are made available in 10 minutes.

What could Jersey do to help Ports of Jersey, Airlines, Private Aviation and Condor Ferries to put this in place?

  1. Rapid reaction or ‘contact-and-trace‘  team

The political focus in many countries has been on testing capacity but tests are nothing without understanding where they occur in other words contact and trace requirements. This approach, which Digital Jersey is understand working on will contain the virus by making sure that new cases where ever they occur throughout the island of quickly quarantine and close contacts traced.

The media report that the UK did attempt ‘contact-and-trace’ at the start of the outbreak however ran out of capacity. This is what loud the virus to spread, allegedly.

It is this ‘contact-and-trace’ professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College, London said yesterday “it requires a single minded emphasis in government and the health system on scaling up testing and putting in place  The ability to track down cases“.

Should the Government of Jersey to help plan a widespread use of a rapid reaction team. Recruiting and deploying rapid action reaction teams across the island presents all sectors of society and the economic sectors in Jersey with a unique opportunity almost more so than testing by itself.

  1. A ‘self reporting’ system for people with COVID-19 symptoms

A new symptom-checker will need to be rolled out to help people spot their symptoms early and self refer themselves for testing if an exit strategy is to be fast tracked.

WHO said “countries must fundamentally increase the capacity to identify suspected cases of COVID-19 in the general population quickly based upon the onset of signs or symptoms.

Does Jersey have any plans to put in place a symptom checker for fever and cough and the other major symptoms?

Symptom-checker apps are currently available in the UK and in a number of other countries. In the UK it is being developed the app developed by Kings College London and Guys and St Thomas’s NHS foundation Trust.

Digital Jersey has a major role in the potential role out of an app which is going to be fundamental to ongoing Virus control.

  1. Personal Protective Equipment PPE

Issues concerning adequate supplies have been highly publicised worldwide and in Jersey i.e. concerning equipment. This is obviously an issue which  Jersey needs to address unless there is a tech based stock control system, unlike the other areas there doesn’t appear to be a direct role for DJ.

Jersey is uniquely placed to lead to draw on the strength of the island being agile as being a relatively low populous island and self-governing. 

Added to strong economic foundations, the strength of Jersey’s Public Finances, super-fast fibre telecommunications, energy and other physical infrastructure, skilled workforce which has kept on working through home-working shows just how resilience the island. 

This position can be leveraged to be a fast early adopted of measures to keep islanders safe and unlock a rapid economic resurgence. 

PFCO 17.IV.2020