As a precaution fifteen individuals have been asked to self-isolate
As of today, Monday 16 March, three individuals have telephoned the hospital to inform staff that they had developed symptoms which may be consistent with possible Coranavirus (COVID-19). As such the hospital has asked these individuals to self-isolate for up to 14 days as a precaution whilst their symptoms are monitored. The three individuals returned to Ascension on the SA Airlink flight on Saturday 14 March.
As a further precaution the hospital has asked several other individuals who had close and prolonged contact with the three persons with suspected symptoms on the evening of their arrival, after having left the aircraft, to self-isolate and to monitor their own health for the development of possible symptoms.
For the time being it is advised that passengers who travelled on the SA Airlink on Saturday 14 March should monitor their own health, and if any symptoms develop to go home, self-isolate as a precaution, and telephone the hospital on 66252.
As we remain unable to test for COVID-19 on Ascension these are precautionary measures taken in the interest of public health and will be kept under review.
Notwithstanding these developments the advice to the wider public remains the same, anyone who develops a new persistent dry cough, a fever or experiences unexpected shortness of breath should go home, self-isolate and telephone the hospital on 66252. If the hospital advises you to begin self-isolation measures please ensure you follow their advice carefully.
These steps have been put in place to help manage the spread of what is suspected to be COVID-19. This is to ensure that if need be, we have the best possible chance of providing care for vulnerable individuals who are at risk of developing a severe illness as a result of contracting the virus.
The hospital has identified a number of individuals who may be at risk of developing severe illness as a result of catching COVID-19 and is reaching out to them to provide advice on practical steps they can take to help protect themselves against this.
The AIG has issued guidance on self-isolation and on steps vulnerable individuals may wish to take to help prevent them contracting the virus. These are available on the AIG website at www.ascension.gov.ac/government/public-documents and through your employer.
Anyone asked to self-isolate will receive daily telephone checks from the authorities, to check on their health and whether they need any essential supplies. A community support group for those in self-isolation is also being set up to provide additional assistance. More details on this will follow shortly.
In addition Georgetown Hospital has designed new resilience and infection control measures. These measures are in place to safeguard hospital staff and the wider hospital environment from unnecessary exposure to the virus, as well as to protect potentially vulnerable patients who may be attending the hospital for care. As such all consultations will now be done by appointment only, to be arranged by telephone before 10:00 each day. Please call the hospital on 66252 between 08:00 and 10:00 if you would like to make an appointment.
A public meeting is being held on Tuesday 17 March at 18:00 at Two Boats Club to provide information to the public on the island approach to managing suspected cases of COVID-19. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions to Dr Bill Hardy.
It is important to remember that the vast majority of individuals who contract COVID-19 will only experience a mild illness with symptoms such as a cough, fever, and little else. However, these measures are being put in place to protect the most vulnerable members of our community who are at a higher risk were they to contract the virus.
The authorities on Ascension continue to liaise with authorities in the UK, St Helena and Public Health England to coordinate and develop our approach to this evolving situation, and information will continue to be communicated regularly to the community as the situation evolves.
Please print this notice and display it in communal areas, or pass it on to friends, family members or colleagues who may not have access to a computer.