PREMIER AND MINISTER FOR FINANCE
HONOURABLE ANDREW A. FAHIE
ON FRIDAY 24TH JULY, 2020
COVID-19 UPDATE: JOST VAN DYKE
WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER
My dear people of the Virgin Islands.
Good day and God’s Blessing to all of you who are watching or listening to your Government’s latest update on COVID-19.
I am pleased to be here with the Minister for Health and Social Development Honourable Carvin Malone as we bring you another COVID-19 Update with emphasis on the Jost Van Dyke community.
First let me say that as a Territory and as a people, we continue to do all we can to keep everyone safe from the dreaded COVID-19, which continues to wreak havoc in countries around the world.
Your Government, guided and assisted by our Public Health team of medical professionals, continues to do our utmost to ensure that we contain any incidence of the virus and if needs be, prevent it from getting out of control.
Our success has always depended, and will continue to depend, on the cooperation of all persons on our shores.
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
So we have to be strong and we have to be united in purpose.
As we have done from the start of this public health emergency in February 2020, your Government continues to share with you whatever information we have that will ensure your safety and wellbeing.
It was an easy decision to ask the Territory to go in lockdown for 14 day 24 hours. It was not an easy decision to ask businesses to temporarily close their doors.
It was not an easy decision to close our borders.
It was therefore not an easy decision to recently ask our Jost Van Dyke residents to go into a 24-hour lockdown.
So we apologise for all the inconveniences caused. But, we do not apologise for looking out for what is best for you and focus all.
An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure
But, as difficult as this is, we all know that it is necessary – as are so many of the other precautionary measures that COVID-19 has forced us to take.
To those who have been asked to make this sacrifice, please remember that this is for your own safety, the safety of your loved ones, and all of our safety – especially the elderly and those who may have underlying medical conditions that increase their risk of becoming affected and infected.
Some of them may be living in your own home, so it is important that we all do not take any chances, at all.
Many persons are asking how this situation could have happened. This is one of the questions that we are actively searching for answers to. But in the meantime, we all have to think about our safety and that of our loved ones.
I must say here that what we are experiencing now is a reminder that the Coronavirus/COVID-19 is still a real threat.
It is a reminder that COVID-19 is not playing around with us and we should not play around with COVID-19.
It is an invisible enemy. You can’t see it. You can’t smell it. You can’t touch it. You will only know that you have it when the symptoms manifest. So, do not take any chances.
That is why as your Government we take full responsibility for the safety of each individual in this Territory during this COVID-19 era because to us each life matters.
As the Minister for Health said, for those to whom testing is now available, please work with the authorities. Get tested. That way we will leave no link unchecked in our testing.
Through this systematic process we will be able to have early detection so that anyone who needs it can get the necessary treatment.
We will also be able to identify those who are in the clear, and to monitor you just in case.
We thank everyone for presenting themselves to be tested, especially our brothers and sisters in Jost Van Dyke, and those who recently visited the island.
One of the things that we have to do is to remain laser-focused.
We remain convinced that this was the right action.
This is the right thing to do and we highly encourage anyone who has recently visited Jost Van Dyke to call the hotline at 8527650, and present yourself for testing for COVID-19.
I am so pleased and thankful to God that as of Thursday, the 23rd of July, 316 samples were collected on Jost Van Dyke between Tuesday the 21st and Thursday the 23rd of July, all of which have tested negative.
I too recently visited our beautiful island of Jost Van Dyke and have ensured that my family and I were tested and our results have shown that we have tested negative for COVID-19.
It was important that as the head of the Territory that whatever policy was mandated for one, must be adhered too by all.
So, let us all continue to remain safe as we navigate the ‘New Regular’ and as we live and work with COVID-19.
Let us make it a regular habit to social distance. We must respect each other by standing six feet apart.
Let us make it a regular habit to sanitise or wash our hands before entering establishments. This is important as we continue to keep each other safe.
It is important that we continue to wear our masks. We must do this to keep each other safe and healthy.
We owe it to each other to ensure safe practices to keep us all alive and healthy.
Remember the world is still exposed to COVID-19, and we cannot become complacent.
As a result we are putting measures in place to further beef up our border control. In the next few days, the details for such will be made public. We intend to leave no stone unturned in this fight to defeat COVID-19 because COVID-19 is not playing around with us and we will not play around with COVID-19.
I have instructed the BVI Tourist Board to work with our people of Jost Van Dyke to create and launch a campaign to remind all of us and the rest of the world that Jost Van Dyke is a BVI gem that we all must visit and enjoy.
As a Territory, we are currently in Phase One of the Controlled Border Re-entry, and soon we will be moving to other phases.
As you know from day one of learning about this global pandemic, we have been ensuring proactive implementation of preventative measures, which so far has resulted in a low COVID-19 positive rate in the Virgin Islands.
Remember that we had scientific predictions indicated that if the measures were not implemented, the Virgin Islands would have had over 3,700 persons infected with COVID-19.
God has indeed been good to us, and I am grateful and thankful that we all continue to remain safe.
As you know, we requested the assistance from the Republic of Cuba in an effort to ensure that the Territory is able to manage any situation that may occur as we continue the cautious phased re-opening of our borders.
The team is comprised of 22 medical professionals including internist doctors, emergency response doctors, intensive care specialist and nurses, and those trained in infectious diseases.
They will augment the capacity of our team of health care professionals currently at the BVI Health Services Authority.
Initially, they were due to arrive in the Territory on Thursday, 23 July and then today Friday.
However, due to a change in travel arrangements they will make an historic touch down at the Terrence B. Lettsome International Airport tomorrow, on Saturday, 25 July.
The timing of the arrival of the medical professionals is pertinent to the further reopening of our borders.
I look forward to what will be an historic day for the people and Territory of the Virgin Islands.
We anticipate that this effort will assist the Territory in opening up with a greater sense of confidence in the fact that adequate specialised treatment capacity will now be available in the Territory.
The medical team of professionals will be quarantined for 14-days upon arrival to the Virgin Islands in line with the protocol for persons entering the Territory, after which they will be tested for COVID-19.
The Virgin Islands has a long history of sending persons with serious medical conditions overseas for treatment.
In the COVID-19 Era, we must re-think the added risk to BVI patients as they travel abroad for treatment, especially to places where the spread of the disease is on the rise.
The Republic of Cuba has a long history of supporting other countries in dealing with infectious diseases.
We are indeed filled with gratitude that the Territory’s request was honoured by Cuba in a spirit of humanitarianism and solidarity with the people of the Virgin Islands.
Indeed, we are ensuring that preventative measures are put in place to allow the BVI to remain in a state of preparedness and mitigation.
As a people let us continue to go forward with vigilance in the midst of COVID-19, and as we do, let us remember that an active Atlantic Hurricane season has been predicted.
You would have been following weather updates from the Department of Disaster Management about Tropical Storm Gonzalo unsettling weather to the Windward Islands is expected.
We have learned that while the system has weakened, it still has the potential to intensify. It is expected to bring gusty winds and heavy rainfall to the Southern Windward Islands and the possibility of creating hazardous sea conditions to the BVI over the weekend. Presently there is a Small Craft Advisory is in effect.
We must remain in a state of readiness. We want you to remain safe.
I can assure you the people that your Government will continue to do its part to ‘Be Ready’ for the Atlantic Hurricane Season.
I continue to be immensely grateful for the continued support of many teams in the Ministries, departments, and statutory bodies of Government that continue to work together to ensure preparedness.
I am also encouraging and reminding the private sector that they too must remain in a heightened state of preparedness.
I encourage everyone to continue updating preparedness plans and procedures to mitigate hazards that we may encounter, including tropical storms or hurricanes.
As a Territory let us continue to work together as one, with BVILOVE, keep COVID-19 at bay.
Let us continue to reboot, re-energise, and reawaken our economy.
And, let us remain ‘ready and steady’ in this 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
I thank you for your continued support and commitment.
May God bless these beautiful Virgin Islands and the people of the Virgin Islands forever.