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COVID 19: a report from the Isle of Man

Chief Biomedical Scientist in Biochemistry Charlie Houston and colleagues outline the impact of COVID-19 on the Isle of Man.

The Isle of Man is not part of the United Kingdom – it is a self-governing British Crown dependency situated in the Irish Sea. Its population is 85,033 and it is about 30 miles (48 km) long by 10 miles (16 km) wide.

The Isle of Man has its own government and Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC). There are two hospitals – Ramsey Cottage Hospital and Noble’s Hospital – and 14 general practitioner health centres.

There are 58 staff working in the pathology department at Noble’s Hospital, providing a range of services.

Public Health 
The Isle of Man began planning for the arrival of COVID-19 on the island during January, as evidence of the novel coronavirus emerged and evolved. By early March, the government had brought in emergency health protection regulations to enable the control of persons at risk of infection should this become necessary. By mid-March, the Government had in place an emergency response based on four main aims:

  1. Preservation of life
  2. Maintenance of critical infrastructure
  3. Maintenance of public safety and confidence
  4. Support for a controlled return to normality when deemed appropriate.

Key actions within the response included closure of borders (with exemptions for critical workers), a requirement for everyone to stay at home apart from essential trips (food shopping, medical care) and exercise. Social distancing (2m) was required and public information on hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and the reasons for staying at home and social distancing was provided.  Non-essential businesses were closed and gatherings were banned. Schools and preschool facilities were closed, apart from provision for vulnerable children and children of essential workers.  

People with underlying health conditions and those over 70 were advised to stay at home for the following 12 weeks. The government brought in a range of measures to support businesses and individuals through the economic impact of the “stay at home” policy. The DHSC worked to increase ICU capacity and create an additional facility where those not requiring ICU level care could be admitted with access to oxygen therapy.

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Image Credit | Getty

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