STATEMENT GIVEN BY THE MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HONOURABLE CARVIN MALONE
ON FRIDAY, 21st AUGUST, 2020
COVID-19 UPDATE – NINE NEW CASES DETECTED
Ladies and gentlemen, good evening. As reported to you on Wednesday evening, a member of our community tested positive for COVID-19 following admission to the Dr. D. Orlando Smith Hospital on 17th August 2020, and remains hospitalised. Since then, teams from the Ministry of Health and Social Development along with the BVI Health Services have been actively pursuing leads and identifying primary and secondary contacts connected to this patient.
Out of those investigations, ten (10) additional persons identified as primary or ‘close’ contacts were quarantined and tested, and nine (9) of those results were positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. None of the primary contacts are exhibiting symptoms at this time, and we pray for their physical and mental health and resilience as they go through this experience.
The total number of cases recorded in the Territory now stands at 21; with twelve (12) active cases, eight (8) recoveries, and one (1) death, after testing at total of 2092 individuals in our local laboratory. Let me again mention that our testing abilities have been enhanced with the kind compliments of test kits from Public Health England together with procurement from the Government of the Virgin Islands.
The cases that were confirmed today are mainly located on the Eastern end of Tortola, and on the island of Anegada. However, our findings point to secondary and tertiary contacts residing in several other communities throughout the Territory. Some of these contacts have been linked to heavily patronised night spots and festive events that took place earlier this month.
Regrettably, several members of our community and business establishments have failed to adhere to basic public health guidelines and legal obligations, placing themselves, families, neighbours, co-workers, friends, and all the rest of us at higher risk of exposure to this aggressive coronavirus.
Our health team continue to carry out contact tracing and testing in an effort to mitigate and contain the spread of the virus. Community screening will take place on Anegada, Virgin Gorda as well as in East End/Long Look and Sea Cow’s Bay in the coming days.
In light of these developments, after receiving Situation Report #22 from the Health Emergency Operations Centre earlier this evening, the Cabinet of the Virgin Islands taking into account the millions of dollars invested by the Government of the Virgin Islands and the many public and private donations that were received took the following decisions:
- advised that the National Security Council instruct the Attorney General to draft a new Curfew Order for the imposition of a night time curfew:
- from 10:00 p.m. on 21st August, 2020 to 5:00 a.m. on 22nd August, 2020;
- from 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. from 22nd August for the next seven (7) days; and
- to restrict the movement of vessels within Territorial waters, except for:
- fisherfolk, as approved;
- and intra-island ferries (apart from those travelling to/from Anegada);
- decided to restrict the movement of all vessels and aircraft, except as approved, to and from Anegada effective 21st to 28th August, 2020;
- instituted island-wide testing on Anegada for the period from 21st to 28th August, 2020;
- decided that all businesses be allowed to operate, with the exception of the following:
- Bars/Night Clubs;
- Restaurants, except for takeout and deliveries only;
- Daycare Centres/Facilities;
- Recreational, gyms and sporting facilities/activities, including summer camps; and
- BVI/USVI freight couriers and charter companies, except for medical emergencies, as approved.
- decided to limit the size at all gatherings to up to 20 persons, with a minimum of six (6) feet inclusive of funerals, burials, weddings and faith-based activities; and
- decided to increase the surveillance of businesses to ensure adherence with the Social Distancing and Sanitisation Protocols, in accordance with the Public Health Suppression Order.
The situation will be kept under review and further decisions will be made based on the findings of our testing and investigations during this curfew period.
We have 15 tests that we await results tomorrow, Saturday and we will be meeting in Cabinet to make further decisions if the need arise. Effective immediately, as earlier decided, the sea borders must be protected and are now under 24 hour patrol and watch at all points to protect the lives and livelihoods of our people.
Once again we strongly urge all members of the public to comply with all established health and safety protocols and dial 311 to report any suspicion or evidence of people smuggling into the Territory. If you are engaged in illegal movement of persons, once again stop. It endangers lives, it hurts our community, you will be caught and you will be persecuted.
I also remind you to contact the Medical Hotline at 852-7650 to schedule an appointment for testing if you experience any symptoms related to COVID-19. Common symptoms include fever, cough, headache, fatigue, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, muscle aches, or difficulty breathing. A number of testing facilities will be established to better serve the residents of this Territory and provide more timely and immediate examinations. These locations will be announced at a later date. Thank you for your attention and your full cooperation.
The Government of the Virgin Islands remains committed to keeping you informed of all significant developments related to COVID-19. For more information on the Territory’s COVID-19 response please visit the website www.bvi.gov.vg/Covid-19.
May God continue to bless each of us as we prepare for the impending storms. We may have a record number of storms this year. We ask that you be prepared, that you protect yourselves and your families and May GOD continue to bless the Virgin Islands.
Good night ladies and gentlemen.