Good afternoon. I wish to inform the people of the Virgin Islands and on the readiness of the Territory’s health system. The Health Emergency Operations Centre continues to work tirelessly to ensure a comprehensive and necessary response to COVID-19 pandemic.
In light of the two confirmed cases, I want to inform the public of the global, regional and local health statistics which are as follows:
- There are 372,757 confirmed cases globally;
- affecting 194 countries, areas and territories;
- There are reported deaths of 16, 231.
Of those confirmed global cases, 651 cases have been confirmed in our Caribbean Region with 11 reported deaths.
Here in the British Virgin Islands, our epidemiological summary is as follows:
- There are 27 persons total who have been tested for COVID-19;
- Of the 27, 25 persons have tested negative and 2 tested positive;
- There are currently 9 persons under investigation (PUI) and are under quarantine awaiting results from CARPHA;
- And there are 107 persons currently on self- quarantine due their level of risk.
Testing, containment, quarantine, contact tracing and follow-up strategies are on-going and are being carried out around the clock in accordance with the World Health Organization technical guidance.
The Ministry of Health and Social Development has:
- Assessed the readiness of our health facilities to meet the anticipated increase in demand on services.
- Continue to address existing gaps, including those with respect to additional supplies and equipment; although, at this present time, we have enough personal protective equipment on the island for our health facilities. We also have adequate stores of respiratory medicine.
- We have trained and continue to train health care providers.
These efforts are supported by a communications campaign to keep the public updated on the virus and its impacts.
As you may be aware, there is currently no vaccine and no specific antiviral treatment against the virus. Prevention is therefore critical to avoid being exposed to COVID-19.
The Government of the Virgin Islands is urging the public to adhere to infection prevention and control measures as this will be key in reducing the spread of the virus.
- Practice simple everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:
- Frequently clean hands using soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub if your hands are not visibly dirty.
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue. Throw tissue away immediately and wash hands;
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and cough by keeping a distance of at least 1to 2 metres (3 to 6 feet) from them;
- Resist the habit to touch your face.
- If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early, and share previous travel history with your health care provider; or call the medical hotline at 852-7650.
- This Government has been preparing for an event such as this as part of the International Health Regulations. We have been:
- Actively working with health care providers about proper response protocols
- Disseminating up-to-date information to the general public, international travellers, and public health partners
- Closed schools and child care facilities
- Restricted access to our most vulnerable facilities
- And restricted operating hours of businesses and recreational facilities
In addition I encourage you all to be informed by visiting www.bvi.gov.vg/covid-19. For persons in our community who have recently travelled within the 14 day and may be experiencing any fever, shortness of breath, fatigue or cough; please stay at home and contact the medical hotline at 852-7650. For all other concerns, persons can contact Public Health at 468-2274.
Again, I want to assure you that we understand your concerns. However, I want to appeal to you to remain calm and to implement all the advisories relating to personal hygiene, social distancing, and overall infection prevention and control. The Government of the Virgin Islands will continue to keep the public informed as we manage this public health challenge. We will get through this together. God bless you and bless these British Virgin Islands.