Government, Press Release
On Tuesday 08 March a positive COVID-19 test result was returned following routine testing of new arrivals. As a consequence of the positive test result, the Ascension COVID-19 Response Level has been escalated to Level 2 ORANGE. This escalation is in line with the Response Level Protocol.
Under Level 2 ORANGE measures, public venues and facilities remain open. As it is expected that the introduction of COVID-19 into the wider community has not occurred, this escalation is a precautionary measure and serves to ensure that a higher level of alertness is observed by authorities on the island and the general public.
Members of the public should continue to practise good cough and hand hygiene, and be alert to the development of any potential COVID-19 symptoms.
When additional testing confirms negative results and the Senior Medical Officer is satisfied that there is no longer a COVID-19 presence on the island, the Response Level will return to Level 1 AMBER.
Further information regarding this matter will be made available to the public in the coming days.
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 Tuesday 08 March on a flight from St Helena, which had departed the UK the day before. They had previously returned a negative COVID-19 test result 72 hours prior to their departure for St Helena.
The individual does not currently have any noticeable symptoms and is otherwise well. They have been placed into individual isolation and they will have their condition monitored by medical staff.
The staff at Georgetown Hospital remain in constant liaison with experts in the UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA) to ensure that the individual who has tested positive receives appropriate support. Further testing will take place over the coming days to monitor the level of infection.
As passengers that originated in St Helena were also on the flight with the positive person, they too are now required to observe a period of compulsory isolation following their arrival, and will also be subject to testing during their quarantine. This is in line with the protocols outlined in the Policy on HLE-ASI Reduced Length Compulsory Isolation.
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 UKHSA 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.
As a result, the individual who has tested positive has not had any contact with the wider public. Authorities are therefore confident that the virus has been effectively contained and so has not been spread to others in the community.
Are members of the public at risk?
AIG has planned and prepared for this scenario, and robust protocols are in place to manage all arrivals to Ascension. These have been designed in liaison with experts in the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to ensure that the risk posed to the island by those arriving from affected areas is reduced to the lowest level possible.
Due to the procedures and protocols in place, the risk posed to the general public by someone who is already in quarantine testing positive for COVID-19 is therefore very low. However, members of the public are encouraged to be on a heightened state of alert until the Response Level returns to Level 1 AMBER and to continue practise good hand and cough hygiene.
When will the Response Level return to Level 1 AMBER?
The Response Level will be de-escalated once testing has determined that the individual no longer poses a threat to the wider community. Further testing will be conducted over the coming days, and the Response Level may be reduced as a result of these tests.
Where and when was the case identified?
The case was identified on Tuesday 08 March 2022 during arrivals testing of UK passengers. As with all arrivals, they were observing compulsory isolation following their arrival and had not mixed with anyone else who was not also on their flight.
What about the other people who were on the plane with them?
Whilst all individuals returned a negative pre-departure test result, as the positive result was identified during routine arrivals testing, all those who travelled on the flight will have their health monitored whilst under quarantine, and have been advised to report any possible COVID-19 symptoms to medical staff. They will also be subject to the usual testing protocols during isolation, as well as prior to being granted permission to exit isolation, to assure authorities that they do not pose a risk to the public.
Why do the St Helena passengers now have to isolate too?
UK passengers are tested on arrival to provide assurance that nobody was infectious at the time that the flight took place. If all results are negative, the possibility that any of the St Helena passengers could have been infected with COVID-19 can be ruled out, given that St Helena remains free from COVID-19 and testing will have confirmed that nobody on the flight was positive. As an extra safeguard, protocols are also in place to keep the two sets of passengers separate of each other.
On this occasion however, passengers were not kept suitably separate during the journey and in light of the positive result St Helena passengers are also required to observe isolation.
What will happen to the individual now?
They are observing individual isolation and will be monitored by medical staff. At present they are asymptomatic and are otherwise in good general health.