We’ve been hearing from News OnTheWight readers that they know people are travelling from the Mainland, to the Isle of Wight, to be tested for Covid-19.
Readers will remember recent coverage that Londoners were being instructed by the Department for Health and Social Care to do so, as they didn’t have enough testing locally.
This clearly has the potential to raise concerns as getting to the Isle of Wight involves crossing the Solent on a ferry.
As ever, News OnTheWight didn’t just jump on this and rush out an irresponsible report that it has happened. We put the effort into researching, going through official channels, to find out from those directly involved what’s happening.
Having done that – in an attempt to clarify the situation – in the hope of putting Islanders’ mind at rest, what do we hear back?
“Those aren’t breakdowns of the data we provide,” Department of Health and Social Care told us.
Keeping Islanders in the dark
Many are likely to find it is beyond belief that the centre doing the Covid-19 testing are not recording the location of where tested people live.
Instead, the Government department have chosen to keep Islanders in the dark as to how many people are crossing the Solent to get tested here on the Island, be that zero or more.
The ferry companies
Red Funnel answered the questions from News OnTheWight about passengers travelling for Covid-19 testing. Hovertravel responded, without answering the questions and Wightlink failed to respond at all.
We’d asked whether they were aware of any passengers who have travelled to the Mainland and back for Covid-19 testing (and vice versa from the Mainland). If so, how many?
Hovertravel didn’t provide numbers, they simply replied,
“If you have any symptoms or are travelling to be tested for Covid-19, you must not travel with us”
Red Funnel: 11 requests for Covid-19 travellers
Whereas Red Funnel were more forthcoming. They told News OnTheWight,
“Since 14th September, we have had a total of 11 requests asking us to help arrange a ‘stay in vehicle’ exemption in order to facilitate travel for the purpose of attending a Covid-19 test, and returning from that test.
“We wish to take this opportunity to urgently remind all passengers that they should NEVER travel on our ferries and join the passenger decks if they have symptoms of Covid-19 or need to quarantine.
“Appreciating that ferry travel cannot be avoided between the Isle of Wight and mainland in some circumstances, we have a process in place to enable those who need to quarantine to make arrangements to remain inside their vehicle.
“For operations and safety reasons, passengers need to get in touch with us to make arrangements to stay isolated in their vehicles and they must do this in advance of travelling – ideally at least 48 hours before.”
Last week News OnTheWight has asked which direction these passengers were travelling and are awaiting an update.
Red Funnel: “Civic responsibility”
The spokesperson for Red Funnel also went on to say,
“We also wish to remind passengers that it is an individual, civic responsibility to refrain from knowingly putting the safety of others at risk.”
For more information, visit their Website.
The Island isn’t like other places in the UK
People getting tested don’t just do so on a whim. They get tested because they are feeling unwell enough to think that they have Covid-19.
These ill people are being instructed by the Government department to board a ferry and cross the Solent to get tested – then of course, get back on a ferry and make their way back to the Mainland to await their tests to find out if they actually have C19.
Despite this, they are not prepare to tell Islanders how many people are making these journeys on our ferries.