Island GP: 'Do not relax lockdown'

By Daniel Gee   |   Head of Content   |
Thursday 23rd April 2020 1:25 pm
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An island doctor has made a video urging the government not to relax the lockdown.

Dr Martin Rankin, who works for the emergency doctors’ service, has urged residents to keep to the pandemic restrictions despite some easing of the rules coming into effect today (Friday).

But his comments were rejected as a difference of opinion by the Health Minister at Thursday’s Covid press conference.

On the video, Dr Rankin says: ‘If we can stop the virus from spreading, we can save our island from going through the misery we’ve seen in other places.’

He gives an insight into his working environment at the repurposed Newlands ward at Noble’s Hospital.

He says: ‘We’ve had 300 cases in the Isle of Man over 30 days, that’s about 10 a day.

‘There was a peak in the middle of the month. The key thing is the trend is now going downwards.

‘That’s because the lockdown has worked because you’ve stayed indoors and you’ve washed your hands and covered your faces.’

He urges people to stay indoors and keep in lockdown ‘for a bit longer’ as the staff ‘don’t want you or anybody you love to be fighting for their life in Newlands’.

When questioned about the video at yesterday’s press briefing, Health Minister David Ashford thanked Dr Rankin for working ‘exceptionally hard in the MEDS environment’.

He said there is a clear difference in opinion, which Dr Rankin is entitled to as anyone else is. He said all measures have been made with clinical input.

He addressed two points made in the video, one about Newlands being a place where people are fighting for their lives.

‘I have to make absolutely clear that Newlands is basically a step up, step down facility. At the moment it is just over half full,’ he said.

‘They are people moved from Abbotswood up to Newlands so we can undertake the deep cleaning and the plan is once the deep cleaning is done they will be moving back out of Newlands, back into their home.’

He added: ‘One of things that was raised [in the video] is that we should really wait until there are seven days of zero cases. If you are going to go off that theory you’d actually wait 14 days because that’s the incubation period of the virus.

‘I can see where Dr Rankin is coming from.

‘I can understand that these are scary and concerning times for people, but the suggestion that this virus is going to go away sometime soon if we do certain measures and we will completely eradicate it I’m afraid evidence around the world is not showing that.

‘We do have to learn to live with this virus even if it’s in low levels for some substantial time in our community.

‘We can’t stay in lockdown forever.’

He added that they will be closely monitoring any ‘baby steps’ they take with things being ‘reconsidered’ if it does not work.

Director of public health Dr Henrietta Ewart agreed with Mr Ashford, saying there were many considerations including the effect of lockdown on mental health.