His Excellency the Governor Augustus J. U. Jaspert convened a meeting this morning to discuss the Territory’s strategic response to the ongoing global Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Premier and Minister of Finance, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie and Minister for Health and Social Development, Honourable Carvin Malone led the discussion on how each ministry, department and agency is working to ensure that the Virgin Islands is ready for the risk of the Coronavirus. Other high-level public officials including Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Honourable Vincent Wheatley; Deputy Premier, Mr. David Archer, Jr; and Junior Minister for Trade and Economic Development, Honourable Shereen Flax-Charles were also in attendance, as well as key heads of agencies and departments.
Governor Jaspert explained that while the Territory has not had any confirmed Coronavirus cases, a comprehensive effort will be needed to help prevent the virus, and to respond in the event it arrives in the Virgin Islands.
The Governor said the Ministry of Health, advised by experts in the Environmental Health, Public Health and Epidemiology units, continue to lead the way as the Territory takes all prudent precautionary measures to deal with the Coronavirus.
The officers also received a situation report from Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Development, Mrs. Petrona Davies, who shared the latest regional intelligence regarding the virus. Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Irad Potter and Chief Executive Officer of the BVI Health Services Authority, Dr. Ronald Georges were also on hand to answer questions and give advice.
While at the meeting Governor Jaspert also formally activated the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) at a Level 1.
Activating the NEOC allows health sector experts to be supported in their work by the Department of Disaster Management in their function as a coordinating body, and by other NEOC support structures to help share information, activate sectoral plans, identify relevant resources, and intensify all readiness actions to ensure that the Territory is adequately prepared to deal with COVID-19.