Good evening all.
It is Sunday evening and we have spent our first week-end in Territory-wide curfew. The curfew remains in place until 6:00 a.m. on Thursday 2nd April. Thank you to everyone for remaining in your homes and for doing your part to reduce the spread of COVID–19 Coronavirus.
We are all in this together and we will get through this together. Our efforts to stay at home mean that we reduce the risk of the virus spreading and risking lives.
I know that not being able to go out and about, to join with others whether in prayer, or even just for a visit to the beach or the shops, has been difficult for all of us. But I believe it’s a sacrifice we all must make.
As we approach Monday, and our regular working week, the impacts may seem even more unusual and restrictive, but as a reminder, unless you are classified as an essential worker as set out by our government you are still required to stay at home continuously. The law applies to everyone equally and will be enforced. Over the weekend 8 arrests were made for breach of the curfew and police will continue to patrol our community to keep our greater population safe.
These arrests are disappointing, but the curfew applies to all equally. Cabinet agreed these difficult measures to protect the overall population of the Territory and I am pleased that the vast majority have complied. This virus does not discriminate and this is our best chance to reduce the risk that the Coronavirus spreads widely within our Territory.
The coming work week may reveal challenges and frustration associated with home isolation. I encourage you to draw on support to help cope with this difficult situation. Identify resources which offer you support, whether through the church, via support groups, or just calling for a chat with a friend or connect as a family with your time together. I also encourage you to support those around you, particularly those home alone. A call and a friendly voice can go a long way.
It is important that we remain focused on our goal to minimise any chance of community spread by staying at home but also pay attention to how we and others are coping with life changes that this health challenge has brought upon our community.
The Government has continued to take steps to further prepare the territory. Yesterday I facilitated UK approval for the deployment of approximately 30 Cuban health care professionals to work with the Ministry of Health and Social Development. We are hugely grateful to the OECS and Cuban Ambassador for enabling this necessary medical support to the Territory.
Today, I chaired a virtual meeting of Cabinet to discuss the latest health report, curfew and preparations for Thursday when the current curfew comes to an end.
Following the confirmation of 2 positive cases last week, Cabinet took the decision to impose the curfew to prevent community transmission. Stopping the chain, will stem the spread of the virus. 5 days will also allow officials to trace and test others who may have already been exposed. Our Public Health teams continue to monitor, trace and identify any further cases.
I recognise that people are asking why 5 days, why we are not allowed out just for short trips and what will happen on Thursday morning. Cabinet decided to move quickly to try to stop any spread of the disease. The initial 5 days was therefore a full shutdown to give us the best shot to break the chain of the disease. I want to reassure you that Cabinet is reviewing the situation and considering these matters very carefully and will continue to keep you informed and will give notice in advance of any arrangements.
In the meantime, I want to once again thank all staff in our public and statutory agencies for all that they are doing. In particular, I thank our dedicated health teams and all in the police force as they take forward the measures necessary to protect us.
Finally, once again, I want to thank you for all for taking these measures seriously and doing your part to protect us all and to combat this virus.
Thank you, stay healthy and may God Bless these beautiful British Virgin Islands.