United Kingdom

Isle of Man CLOSES all its schools two days after an island-wide circuit-break lockdown

Schools across the Isle of Man will be forced to shut down in an effort to halt the spread of coronavirus - particularly among the island's young people.

The move, which will see all schools and childcare facilities close from Friday, comes just days after a circuit break lockdown came into force on the island following a rise in coronavirus cases after a ferry crew member tested positive.

The island had come out of lockdown on February 1, with schools and businesses reopening after no reports of unexplained community cases of coronavirus for 17 consecutive days.

But, on Tuesday, Chief Minister Howard Quayle announced a new lockdown of 21 days as a result of a 'transmission in our community that we cannot see and that we do not understand'. 

He confirmed that the Isle of Man had seen 'a strong level of transmission between its young people' and 'every opportunity' needed to be taken to interrupt this.

All schools and childcare facilities on the Isle of Man will be forced to shut down in an effort to halt the spread of coronavirus . (Stock image)

Mr Quayle said: 'As we know, the Kent variant of COVID-19 is particularly virulent and we are seeing it spreading rapidly amongst our community. 

'The virus spreads when people mix and so we need to do all we can to minimise that mixing. We are currently seeing a strong level of transmission between our young people and we need to take every opportunity we have to interrupt this.

'Whilst much of the opportunity for transmission has been minimised through the circuit break, there are still a number of settings where children are moving around outside of the home. 

'In the interests of children and broader society, we need to prevent children from mixing.

'The closure of schools and childcare facilities on Friday will create a firebreak, and the message is simple, if you have children, they must not mix with children from other households and should stay at home on Friday.

'This decision has not been taken lightly and is on the advice of Public Health and other professionals managing our response to this pandemic. 

'I appreciate that it will present a challenge to our children and for a number of people who provide essential and indeed critical services for our Island but at the moment we feel this action is in the best interests of our young people and our community.'         

The island currently has 58 cases of coronavirus, three of which have no immediate link to identified clusters of the virus.

On February 18, Mr Quayle announced there were cases of Covid-19 on the Isle of Man which were not among people who had travelled there and entered self isolation.

Chief Minister Howard Quayle announced a new lockdown of 21 days as a result of 'transmission in our community that we cannot see and that we do not understand'

They were linked back to a member of staff working for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, which runs ferries to and from Liverpool, Belfast, Dublin and Heysham, in Lancashire.

At the time, the company said the crew member, who was not in a passenger-facing role, had a test while off-duty and was placed in immediate isolation, with contact tracing underway.

Under the new measures, which came into force just after midnight on Wednesday, schools and businesses will close and residents are urged to stay at home.

Mr Quayle said the island's vaccination programme was on track to deliver first doses to all over 50s and clinically vulnerable adults during April.

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