Greetings Virgin Islanders and friends.
Consistent with the Government’s commitment to keep you informed I am pleased to present our weekly updates on the Territory’s response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
In the interest of your safety, this week, however, is different because as a Territory, we have been asked to stay at home except for persons authorized.
In the meantime, I want to reiterate some critical information to consider, follow and share for your own safety and that of the entire Territory.
As of March 29, 2020:
- there are 634,835 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally with 156,588 persons recovered and approximately 18,440 deaths.
- It is important to note that in that number, 1,063 are confirmed in the Caribbean region.
- 95 percent of persons infected with COVID-19 remain mild, while 5 percent are in serious or critical condition.
- The World Health Organization continues to classify both the global and regional risk of COVID-19 as very high.
On March 25, we reported that 9 persons were under investigation awaiting results from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CAPRHA). The Health Emergency Operations Centre continues to work around the clock to contact- trace and to test persons at risk. Subsequently, an additional 16 persons were tested, thus bringing the total number of persons under investigation to 25. Today, of that 25 persons, we have confirmed another positive case in the British Virgin Islands bringing our total confirmed positive imported cases to 3. The third patient is a 26 year old male with travel history to a country where there is community spread. He is currently in quarantine and had only mild symptoms. His contacts are also quarantined and are asymptomatic which means they have no symptoms. I can now report that there are 143 persons under self-quarantine protocol at their home. Testing, containment strategies and follow-up continue to be carried out in accordance with WHO technical guidance taking into consideration the local context
The Government of the Virgin Islands would like to assure the public that we continue to work in a proactive manner to further detect, contain and manage the spread of COVID-19 in our Territory.
- We have implemented a 24-hour curfew which is due to expire on Thursday, April 2;
- We are discussing a schedule for the public to be able to access basic critical supplies and carry out essential services;
- We will announce new measures to manage and collect household waste;
- We are arranging with private facilities to finalize Isolation Centres, Quarantine Facilities and accommodations for Health Care Professionals including the request for the Cuban healthcare personnel;
- We have arranged for transfer of patients from Sister Islands with Speedy’s for Virgin Gorda and VISAR for other islands;
- The third level car park of the D. Orlando Smith Hospital has been transformed by the Emergency Department for enhanced pre-screening of patients suspected of COVID-19;
- the logistical arrangements to support surge capacity is on-going;
- A 25-bed field hospital equipment is being negotiated with Crown Agents from the UK Government
- Cabinet continues to meet 6 days a week, and if required we will met even more frequent.
- The HEOC continues to work in a multi-prong response team to leave no stone unturned as it relates to COVID-19.
- And on Friday, March 27 we were successful in passing the COVID-19 Bill which will allow us to introduce mandatory quarantine and fines of up to $5,000 or up to 12 months imprisonment. It will also allow us to source medical personnel and expedite their registration without delay.
All of these proactive measures are being done with everyone’s best interest in mind but we must remind you that you too have a role to play. We advised you to wipe surfaces, wash your hands, use hand sanitisers, avoid touching your face, cough in your folded elbow and if you use disposable napkins you have to apply the one use theory – throw out and use another. We also advised that if you show any symptoms during this period that you self- isolate as best as possible, even during this time of curfew with your family.
We have to keep the curve of increased cases flatten and we will accomplish this once we work together, ONCE YOU DO YOUR PART.
Thanks to all Members of the House of Assembly— I thank the Government of the Virgin Islands and all those frontline persons who have been with us day in and day out to make sure of the protection of our health care in the Virgin Islands as it relates to COVID-19. I want to thank the public for complying and continuing to do so because without your help, we will not be able to reduce the spread and flatten the curve. At the end of the day, we have a duty to protect lives and with this I say God bless every one of us and God bless these Virgin Islands.