Frequently Asked Questions
This information was last updated on 22 May, 2020.
COVID-19 is an illness caused by the new novel coronavirus strain, SARS-CoV-2.
The symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- a new or worsening cough
- a high temperature (at least 38
- shortness of breath
- sore throat
- sneezing and runny nose
- temporary loss of taste smell
But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness.
The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.
The Falkland Islands is able to respond should a case of coronavirus be suspected.
The Government has been reviewing and updating its infectious diseases planning.
KEMH Hospital has an isolation facility and is capable of treating patients with severe complications from COVID-19.
The hospital also has plans in place for isolating a larger area should it have admissions of any sort requiring such facilities, along with all the necessary clothing, and control of infection procedures.
Because it's a new illness, we do not know exactly how COVID-19 spreads from person to person.
Similar viruses are spread in cough droplets.
It's very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food. It is thought that viruses like COVID-19 can live outside the body for up to 72 hours.
There are things you can do to help stop viruses like COVID-19 spreading.
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- put used tissues in the bin immediately
- wash your hands with soap and water often – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
Staff at KEMH will assess if you need medical help and advise you what to do. Do NOT go to the hospital but ring 28000 first if:
- you think you might have COVID-19
- you've recently been to a country or area with a high risk of COVID-19 (see Travel Advice further below)
- you've been in close contact with someone with COVID-19
Updated 07 April, 2020
Executive Council has approved measures to restrict non-essential visitors to the Falkland Islands, in order to help delay the spread of the COVID-19 virus here.
This measure will seek to protect the local community and reduce demand on the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.
This means that visitor permits will not be granted.
This does not affect returning residents - individuals holding Falkland Islands status, PRP, work permit holders, and resident permit holders. Nor does it affect BFSAI personnel and MoD contractors.
Only by exception may persons outside of the above categories be permitted entry; this is on a case by case basis for a specific reason and only if approved by the Principal Immigration Officer.
The number of confirmed cases around the world has risen sharply in recent weeks. The World Health Organization acknowledges measures that restrict the movement of people may prove temporarily useful in places with few international connections and limited medical capacity. They are advised to be short in duration and proportionate to the risk to public health.
This measure will ensure that residents and key workers can continue to come to the Islands whilst minimising any unnecessary travel. Separate measures are already in place around the management of arriving travellers, to ensure that they isolate from the community for an appropriate period on arrival.
Due to the current suspension of the LATAM services from Chile and Brazil the implications of these changes currently fall mainly on the South Atlantic Airbridge connection which is still operational. Travellers that fall outside of the categories listed above will not be permitted to travel on this service unless this is approved in writing by the Principal Immigration Officer in advance.
These restrictions apply to all travellers who require a visitor permit regardless of how they wish to travel to the Falklands, whether by air or sea. Around the world, international restrictions on visitors have been applied, and so this proposed move is both proportionate and in-step with the response of other nations.
Executive Council will review these measures no later than 31 May 2020 in order to determine whether they remain appropriate.
This travel advice is subject to change.
When health authorities are aware of a possible case, or cases, there is a clear process that is followed.
If it is thought possible or probable that the person or persons may have been exposed to COVID-19, testing would be carried out, while the person or persons would be asked to self-isolate.
At this stage, test results can only be processed in the UK, and thus results may take a week or longer to receive.
Those who may have been in close contact with the person or persons in question would be contacted and provided with advice by health authorities. It is possible they would be asked to self isolate, even if they are feeling well.
Self-isolation and contact tracing are well-established international practices used to impede the spread of an infectious disease.
As of May 16, 2020, KEMH can test for COVID-19.
The KEMH laboratory team have now trained on the use of a PCR analyser.
Comparison testing of samples has been completed showing that results achieved in the KEMH are equivalent to those achieved in the UK, meaning the test method has been successfully validated for use.
We are now in a position to undertake on-Island testing of symptomatic people who might be carrying the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the disease COVID-19.
Results from swabs should be available within 24 hours in most cases.
Moving forward, having this platform up and running means that people who are symptomatic with a flu-like illness, and who have been asked to isolate, will be able to be swabbed and once the result is known.
If it is not positive for COVID-19, once the individual has been completely well for 24 hours, they will be free to return to work/school.
This also means that household members of symptomatic individuals (who are still expected to isolate along side their unwell family/bubble member) will be able to be released back to work/school as soon as a negative result is returned.
It is expected that the self-isolation times in these cases will be greatly reduced with the opportunity for on-Island testing.
On occasions, if a person remains symptomatic with a flu-like illness, a second swab is needed and this too can be undertaken in the KEMH lab.
In addition to this, surveillance swabbing will be undertaken across Stanley and MPC and the swabs analysed in the KEMH.
Surveillance swabbing is an important tool to try and search out the virus, particularly in those individuals who might be asymptomatic but still shedding the virus.
Initially surveillance swabbing will be targeted at healthcare workers, but will quickly be rolled out to include people who undertake work where they naturally come into contact with lots of people, e.g. teachers, shop assistants, Customs and Immigration officials etc. and eventually random sample groups will be swabbed and tested too as a matter of course.
Surveillance swabbing will be undertaken at MPC too.
Prior to this more than 400 tests were able to be processed in the UK.
If there's a chance you could have COVID-19, you may be asked to stay away from other people (self-isolate).
This means you should:
stay at home not go to work, school or public places not use public transport or taxis ask friends, family members or delivery services to do errands for you. If you are unable to access such support, then you should advise health authorities so that more assistance can be organised. try to avoid visitors to your home – it's OK for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food
You may need to do this for up to 14 days to help reduce the possible spread of infection. See below for specific guidance around self-isolation for each of our community groups.
Translations available in General Information.
Updated 06 April, 2020.
The Government has strengthened guidance around Self-Isolation and Social Distancing, to reflect that there are a number of distinct groups being asked to act responsibly and self-isolate for the good of the community. Each group has different reasons for being in isolation, and the guidance is specific to each Here are the groups currently being advised, and guidance to them.
If you have recently arrived in the islands you must self-isolate for 14 days just in case you have Covid-19 and don’t realise it. Some people who have Covid-19 don’t feel ill but we don’t want to take the risk that you could infect others around you. So you are self-isolating for the protection of others. In practical terms this means that you should not be leaving your house for any reason You should be asking other people to do your shopping etc and leaving this on the porch for you. If you live with other people then you need to be able to live separately from the others in the same house. This means
- Being able to have a separate bedroom and bathroom
- Always being able to be 2 metres apart from other people if you are in the same room
- Cleaning all surfaces after you have touched them
If you can’t do this then you either need to quarantine yourself somewhere else or the entire household must quarantine together. If you want more help with this please contact KEMH on 28000
High risk individuals
Due to a multitude of factors, such as age and underlying health conditions, you have been identified as being at high risk of developing complications if you were to contract Covid-19 and so have been asked to self-isolate for 12 weeks. So you are asked to self-isolate for your own protection. This means
- Stay at home – ask for help in getting groceries etc and get these left on the porch. Do not go to school, work or public areas.
- Separate yourself from other people in your home, particularly if they are not self isolating. Ideally be in a separate room with the windows open.
- If you have two bathrooms then use a different one. If not then you should use it last ideally and clean it afterwards if possible.
- Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly.
- Avoid sharing household items such as cups, glasses, towels, bedding etc.
- Do not have visitors in your home.
- You can go out for a walk in the fresh air if you stay 2m away from other people. Try not to share a car. If you do share a car then open the windows.
Due to your symptoms we believe that you may have contracted Covid-19 and so you are asked to self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days, which must include at least 7 days symptom free. (You also need to contact KEMH to report your symptoms and get further advice re the need for a swab etc). So you are asked to self-isolate for the protection of others. This means that you should not be leaving your house for any reason, apart from brief exercise or a drive in your car, alone.
You should be asking other people to do your shopping etc and leaving this on the porch for you. If you live with other people then you need to maintain social distancing from them WITHIN the household. This means not sharing a bed and ideally not sharing a bathroom. If you do have to share a bathroom then you need to clean it regularly after each use. You should also be regularly wiping down common high touch surfaces such as light switches etc. If it is impossible for you to socially distance within your household then you either need to quarantine yourself somewhere else or the entire household must self-isolate.
If you have been advised by KEMH to quarantine you should stay at home and not go outside for exercise until your quarantine period is over.
If you have been told by KEMH that you are high risk and need to self isolate for up to 12 weeks, you can go for walks, but practise social distancing and avoid public spaces. If you need support for your essentials, please contact KEMH on 28000.
If you are symptomatic you should not leave your home for any reason, apart from brief exercise alone and maintaining strict social distancing from others.
If you are not self-isolating you can go outside for exercise maintaining strict social distancing protocols.
If you have been advised by KEMH to self-isolate because you are high risk or symptomatic you must remain at home but can go for a drive, ideally alone or if you must share a car try to maintain social distancing and have the windows wound down.
Everyone else in the community has been asked to reduce non-essential activity so it is important to remember to always practice social distancing when out e.g. if possible minimise the number of people in vehicle to be able to maintain social distancing. Also drive with the window wound down.
We would ask that you strictly isolate for 14 days, in practical terms this means that you should not be leaving your house for any reason.
There is currently no specific treatment for COVID-19.
Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses.
Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness.
You'll need to stay in isolation away from other people until you've recovered.
Health authorities will stay in contact, monitoring your care. They will make any decisions regarding whether you might need a higher level of care in hospital.
People of all ages can get COVID-19. Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) are more likely to become severely ill with the virus.
Everyone should follow simple measures to stop viruses like COVID-19 spreading, for example by washing their hands often with soap and water.
There is currently no evidence that you can catch COVID-19 from parcels and letters. Viruses like COVID-19 cannot live for very long outside the body.
There is currently no evidence that you can catch COVID-19 from food. But it's always a good idea to wash your hands in soap and water or use hand sanitiser gel before you prepare or eat food.
Facemasks play an important role in clinical settings, such as hospitals. While there is little conclusive evidence of benefit from their use outside of these settings, their use may be advised for you by KEMH or as part of your work if deemed appropriate. The Government (on 22 May) has published guidance for non-health workers on PPE use that outlines some other occasions where a face mask is appropriate. Note that FIGAS now requires face masks to be worn by passengers.
Remember that you should practise social distancing when out, and remember always to wash your hands thoroughly after returning home. This will protect you much more than wearing a facemask.
Not necessarily, regular handwashing offers more protection than wearing gloves.
If gloves are worn, they can become contaminated by touching COVID-19 if it is on a surface you touch. So if they are disposable, take them off before re-entering your home and dispose of inside. Then wash your hands thoroughly. Non-disposable gloves for the same reasons need to be thoroughly washed after use.
There is currently no vaccine for the COVID-19. The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine.
Simple hygiene measures like washing your hands with soap and water often, and avoiding people who are unwell, can help stop viruses like COVID-19 spreading.
If you have been advised to stay indoors by KEMH you should avoid public spaces. Everyone else in the community has been asked to reduce non-essential activity so it is important to remember to always practice social distancing when out for essential trips (shopping, banking, exercise).
There is no need for undue purchasing. Supply chains to the Islands are functioning well. Individuals with medication needs however may wish to check if they may need to obtain a repeat prescription in the near future.