11th March 2020

Island Labour today asked the Isle of Wight council to publish its contingency plans for vulnerable Islanders, in the event of the developing attempts to combat the spread of the  coronavirus.

With a large elderly population, the Island will need robust preparation for any escalation of the virus. However, actions taken to combat the virus’s spread may also lead to difficulties for those with children of school age.

The dedicated staff in our doctors’ surgeries and at St Mary’s hospital will do everything they can to look after those affected by the virus. Islanders should continue to follow the advice of medical professionals in terms of preventative action, self-isolation and treatment.

It would be useful to know what contingency plans the council is putting in place to maintain adult social care for those Islanders who rely on the services, in the event of significant staff sickness, particularly as many of those relying on social care will be in high-risk groups.

Island Labour also understands that national school closures are looking more likely in the next few weeks. Again, it would be useful to know what plans the council has to ensure that children who receive free school meals will not go hungry if their school is forced to close for any length of time.

Island Labour Chair, Julian Critchley, said: “Obviously, we’re all hoping that the worst predictions won’t come to pass. However, some disruption seems increasingly likely, and undoubtedly the council is already planning for it, in order to minimise risks to Islanders. After a number of conversations with anxious Islanders, I think it would help ease minds if key contingency plans could be set out as soon as possible.”

“It will be important, over this difficult time, to recognise that vulnerable groups will still require help and support, and their families will be relieved to know how the council proposes to provide that support.”