Information from the Administrator on the 29th July 2020.

Tristan Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update, July 2020

Tristan da Cunha CrestInformation from Administrator Steve Townsend on the 29th July 2020

This bulletin updates the status report we published in May 2020.

The island continues to remain free of COVID-19. Although there is no social distancing on the island itself, we like to think that 1,500 miles of South Atlantic pushes the concept to the extreme. We continue to monitor the situation in South Africa very closely, because it impacts on the island. We are keen that those Tristanians who are currently at Tristan House in Cape Town are able come back in the Geo Searcher in August. It was a great pity that they were not able to make the July Edinburgh sailing, but the party had to go into quarantine when one of them tested positive just before they joined the boat. But hopefully they are all now healthy, and we look forward to welcoming them back.

The July Edinburgh trip was the first since April, and we needed the supplies of food, fuel and medicine. The weather did not cooperate for a long time, and the vessel spent over two weeks off-shore. But fortunately there was a break in the weather over the weekend of 18th & 19th July, and we were able to complete the off-loading. So we now have enough food, fuel and medical supplies to last for a few months. The hospital has additional oxygen concentrators, which will also help. If the lock-down in South Africa affects our supply line again, the island has enough stock for four to six months. Rationing has now been lifted. We even have enough toilet rolls! There is still a shortage of fresh fruit and vegetables as we made a decision to use the space for non-perishables, and the Edinburgh also did not carry any alcohol.

We hope to be able to refill all our stocks with the August Geo Searcher, and then look forward to have the Edinburgh coming out again in September and November. The SA Agulhas II will also be visiting in September, but the lock-down in South Africa means that it will not be carrying passengers.

Economic Impact

Like the rest of the world, the island will continue to feel the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis. The global lobster market has been impacted, we continue to be closed to visiting cruise liners and yachts, and the closure of the South African Post Office has reduced the sales of stamps. So, like many other places around the world, we will have to tighten our belts for the next couple of years. It is impossible to say how much we will be affected, or when we will come out of it, but we have to be realistic about the challenges ahead.

However the fishing season has started again as planned on 1 July - although the bad weather has meant that there have been no fishing days yet! We would also like to be in a position to be able to welcome those cruise liners which would like to visit next year, and will continue to monitor the global situation and the prevalent medical advice to see how we might be able to open our doors again. Unfortunately the only visitor to the island since April was one of the crew of the Edinburgh who was taken seriously ill with a heart attack and had to be brought ashore to be examined by our doctors. After consultation with the cardiologists in South Africa he was able to return on the ship. Please visit our separate report about the Medical Emergency on the MFV Edinburgh for more details.

We hope that all our family and friends are staying safe.