On Thursday 15 July a positive COVID-19 test result was returned following a test on a suspected case in a person currently under compulsory isolation measures. As a consequence of the positive test result, the Ascension COVID-19 Response Level was escalated to Level 2 ORANGE. This escalation was in line with the Response Level Protocol.
As per the Georgetown Hospital protocols, subsequent tests were conducted on the individual whilst they remained under monitor from medical staff, as well one other individual who was initially observing bubbled compulsory isolation with the positive case prior to their positive test result. Results from tests done on Friday 23 July and Sunday 25 July were negative, and as such the individual is no longer deemed to be infectious or a risk to others.
The other individual was kept under observation during the last 10 days and has been subject to the same testing regime as the positive person during this time. They have not displayed any symptoms of COVID-19 nor returned any positive test results indicting infection during the last 10 days. As such they have also been released from compulsory isolation having completed a total of 15 days since their arrival to Ascension.
Due to these subsequent negative test results, the Ascension COVID-19 Response Level has been reduced to Level 1 AMBER as of this afternoon.
As with the previous escalation of the Response Level in December 2020, AIG will review the Response Level Protocol in light of this escalation and will report any changes to the protocol that result from this.
As ever, anyone who develops a new persistent dry cough, a fever or experiences unexpected shortness of breath should go home, self-isolate and telephone Georgetown Hospital on 66252 for further advice.
The individual in question had arrived at Ascension on Saturday 10 July on a flight from the UK. They had previously returned a negative COVID-19 test result 72 hours prior to their departure for the island, a further negative result within 24 hours of their departure for the island and a negative test result on arrival at Ascension.
The individual was initially observing bubbled isolation with one other person. Once a positive result was returned, both were placed into individual isolation, had their conditions monitored by medical staff and were subject to ongoing testing.
The result of a test conducted on the index case on Friday 23 July indicated a significant reduction in the levels of the virus, to the point of non-infectious amounts. The result of a subsequent test conducted on Sunday 25 July confirmed that the individual was negative for COVID-19 and as such not a risk to others. Given these negative results the Senior Medical Officer is satisfied that there is no risk to the public from any of the individuals in this isolation bubble.
This is a scenario that AIG had planned and prepared for. Robust measures for effectively managing arrivals to Ascension have been in place throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. These protocols have been developed in liaison with experts from Public Health England and are designed to ensure that any person arriving at the island is kept separate from the general public until the Senior Medical Officer can be assured that they do not pose a risk of introducing COVID-19 into the community.
Even though the individual who tested positive had not had any contact with the wider public, and therefore any potential COVID-19 was contained, the level of risk to Ascension from COVID-19 had increased and as a result the response level was raised. Following the negative test result and confirmation that the threat from COVID-19 had reduced, the response level was returned to Level 1 AMBER.
Is it safe for these individuals to be released?
The test result has been analysed by the Senior Medical Officer and experts within Public Health England. Both are satisfied that the lack of virus mean that the person in question is non-infectious. As a result, they do not pose a risk to the public. Despite five rounds of testing, at no point have any others within the same isolation group returned positive test results.
The protocols in place in Ascension have been designed in liaison with experts in Public Health England to ensure that any person arriving at the island is kept separate from the general public until the Senior Medical Officer can be assured that they do not pose a risk of introducing COVID-19 into the community.
What about the other people who were on the plane with them?
The individual, as did all others on the flight in question, tested negative on arrival. As such, given their symptoms developed after their journey to the island, no others from the flight could have been exposed to infection from the individual in question.
As such, and following negative exit tests, the other individuals were permitted to be released from compulsory isolation in line with the standard arrivals procedures.