STATEMENT GIVEN BY THE MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HONOURABLE CARVIN MALONE
ON MONDAY 17TH AUGUST, 2020
Fellow Virgin Islanders, residents and friends, good evening. On Friday the 14th of August we brought you a comprehensive update on the COVID-19 situation in the Territory and the recent decisions that were taken by Cabinet to further ease internal restrictions and transition towards the second phase of the controlled border reopening plan.
On that occasion I announced the recovery of Case #9 and again emphasized the need for continued vigilance in observing all prescribed health and safety protocols given the rapid spread of the virus in jurisdictions with close connections to the BVI.
Today, in fulfillment of our commitment to keep you fully informed, I am announcing that a total of 1890 persons have been tested in the Territory. While six results are pending two (2) additional persons have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. This brings the total number of cases detected to eleven (11); eight (8) of whom have fully recovered, one (1) person succumbed to the disease, and the two (2) most recent cases remain active.
Both patients had recently returned to the Territory quarantined and in accordance with established health protocols were tested at the end of their 14 days quarantine period. Both persons will remain in isolation where they will be monitored; administered the necessary treatment services and thereafter re-tested by the BVI Health Services Authority until recovered.
I take this opportunity to extend best wishes to both individuals for a full and rapid recovery. This is another instance where our investments in various border control measures are serving the intended purpose of detecting imported cases and containing them in ways that limit the possibility of person-to-person community transmission of the virus in the Territory.
Other protective measures include the border patrols being conducted by the Joint Task Force comprised of Customs, Immigration and Police Officers that help guard against illegal entry. Reports are being received of the possibility of illegal trafficking at borders! If this is so my simple advice is STOP! It is dangerous! It is wrong! It could bring harm to the territory.
I wish to remind all of us that none of these measures are 100% fail-proof, and it is therefore not possible to completely eliminate the risk of importation of the virus that causes COVID-19.
This is why we must remain vigilant, continue to take a cautious approach to social and economic activity, and thoughtfully engage with the world around us, out of care and concern for our community.
I say once again, if we are responsible we will get through this. We know that some elements of our society see no harm in risking human lives in order to achieve financial gain. This government maintains the view that, while our precautionary stance causes some hardship in the short term, it will ultimately place us in a stronger position to recover and rebound.
And so, we approach the second phase of the Restricted Border Re-opening Plan with a solid commitment to facilitating the entry of qualified persons to the Territory in ways that do not cause undue harm to the community. As previously announced:
For the period August 15th through September 30th Government quarantine accommodations will continue to be provided at no cost to all returning persons, regardless of immigration status. Beginning August 15th, until such time as announced otherwise, all person, regardless of immigration status wishing to be privately quarantined at their homes or at any non-Governmental facility will be required to contribute $3,500 per household.
Beginning October 1st, all work permit and work permit exemption holders, together with other categories of persons permitted to enter the Territory and applying to be quarantined at a government quarantine accommodations will be asked to contribute $2,500 per room or suite towards the total cost of the facility, security and other expenditures.
With the declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic, the BVI Government has expended millions of dollars in securing lives so that our livelihoods could be reinstated. As I stated just 72 hours ago, Regional and international jurisdictions that have opened up irresponsibly are now forced to reverse their decisions as they are now experiencing drastic spikes of the virus. In the BVI: the Tourist Board, the Financial Services Industry; the yachting industry; the construction industry and all participating partners are convening to determine a sustainable approach to opening our borders and return to a sense of normalcy.
I join in applauding the Deputy Governor (Deputy to Governor August 10-14th) who chaired Cabinet during the 3 days sessions last week as we determined the best approach in expanding phase 2 of the internal border reopening. It is a great testament to what can be accomplished as we all work together towards the greater good.
In this respect I cannot conclude without expressing the Government’s concern with the many establishments that are simply NOT adhering to the safety protocols established for our safety. Concerns are also expressed of the extreme loud noise and irresponsible usage of motor mikes throughout the territory. This too must stop; license your bikes; wear your helmets; stop the loud noise; observe traffic laws; safe riding saves lives.
Fellow citizens, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls; my plea is simple. Please continue to do your part to minimize the risk of COVID-19 infection by consistently complying with the physical distancing, personal hygiene, wearing of face masks and sanitisation guidelines that have been developed to help ensure our safety.
With our safety measures we were able to detect our 2 recent positive cases at our quarantined location. We wish both our cases a speedy recovery. Act responsible; we will get through this together.
In closing, we would again like to welcome the captains and crew members of the UK naval vessels HMS Medway and RFA Argus as they carry out a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief simulation exercise.
In accordance with established health protocols, all 92 persons on board the ships were tested by the BVI Health Services Authority, and all lab results returned negative for the virus that causes COVID-19.
We join in wishing them a successful mission while in the Virgin Islands and the Caribbean region during the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Thank you for tuning in and may God continue to bless our British Virgin Islands.