Chief Minister to face press twice a week

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Senator John Le Fondré defended himself and said he had appeared in five press conferences since the first positive case in Jersey on 10 March and other ministers had appeared in a further eight.

The government has also come under fire for its lack of statistical data about positive cases in Jersey including age ranges of those who have become infected and those in hospital, as well as the recovery rates.

The Chief Minister said that data should be available publicly as of Monday.

Many Islanders have compared the Senator’s handling of public appearances to that of Guernsey Chief Minister Gavin St Pier who has been widely praised on the island and in Jersey. In particular, the media and the public criticised Senator Le Fondré for an update on the Nightingale Hospital, being built at Millbrook playing field, which was released late on Easter Monday in a pre-recorded video, meaning journalists were unable to scrutinise decisions made.

The Chief Minister is due to appear at two press conferences next week on Monday and Friday, with a further press conference with another minister likely to also be held.

Quizzed as to why he had not appeared before journalists more regularly, the Chief Minister said there was a balance to be struck between the time he spent making important decisions and announcing them before the public.

‘Looking ahead I think we have gone through some of the big decisions we have to make and I think we can now get to a more routine basis. And so, I will be doing a couple of press conferences a week and hopefully with another minster. There will be another in the middle, as well as the pieces to camera.

‘We are trying to get as much information as possible but there has not been a vacuum of public information. We have to balance between decisions we make now and we are trying to save lives in the future.’

The Chief Minister acknowledged that not everyone has access to the internet but said the government website was experiencing 46,000 visits a day and had had 2.8 million hits since March.

The government has previously said it will not release information about positive cases to protect the confidentiality of patients – in contrast to the style in the UK where details on age range and prior health are often given.

The Chief Minister said as the number of case had now increased – on Saturday it stood at 245 – there was now a lesser risk of identifying people.

‘We will be disclosing recover rates so I am expecting to be receiving the additional data on recover rates and demographics. So, subject to ministerial approval, that will be available from Monday. I fully understand its information the public want to see but there is a constant need to protect the identities of individuals.’

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