7th September 2020
Coronavirus returns to Guernsey
The first case of COVID-19 to be detected in Guernsey was identified on 9 March 2020 in a resident returning from holiday in Tenerife. Legislation was quickly put in place requiring all arrivals to quarantine for a set period. However, this was not sufficient to prevent the first in-island transmission from person to person, which happened in late March.
At that point, more stingent lockdown measures were put in place, which proved successful, and by September, just 13 deaths had been recorded in Guernsey, in a global pandemic that had claimed millions of lives worldwide (the number of deaths in Guernsey had stood at 14, but this included a patient who had died with the virus, but not because of it; their death was later subtracted from the total). The BBC reported on 31 March 2020 that Guernsey’s first coronavirus death had been an 80 year old patient who had passed away at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital (23 June).
The island’s lockdown was initially set to last two weeks, but was extended to a month. By 19 April, no new cases were being reported and a phased end to the island-wide isolation measures was announced. Although there were still a few sporadic cases, they became rarer and rarer, allowing authorities to bring forward the eventual end of the isolation measures. Guernsey’s handling of the pandemic was held up as an example of what can be achieved, and Guernsey residents were able to enjoy a return to life largely as normal while the mainland continued with restrictions.
However, on 7 September, when no cases had been detected in Guernsey for 129 days, the virus returned.
“The person [with the virus] had returned from the UK and was identified through a test taken on day seven of their isolation,” reported the BBC website on 7 September. “The States said the patient was “doing well” and was complying with self-isolation requirements.”
Despite the return of the virus, it was not deemed necessary to reintroduce restrictions on movement for the remainder of the year.
Cases increased in Guernsey in early 2021, rising to nearly 300 by the end of the month. Alderney went into lockdown in response, but the first COVID-19 case was identified in Alderney on 5 February. The affected patient was already in isolation at that point, and Alderney, like Guernsey, was by then in the process of rolling out vaccinations to residents.