STATEMENT BY PREMIER OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
AND MINISTER FOR FINANCE
HONONOURABLE ANDREW A. FAHIE
19 April, 2020
COVID-UPDATE - Arrangements for Curfew Period
Good day and God’ Blessings to you the people of the Virgin Islands, on this Lord’s Day.
May the peace of the Lord be with each of us, even in these trying times!
Let us never lose sight that our success will come in oneness in prayer, oneness in song, unity, and by sharing only BVILOVE.
Yesterday, Saturday, April 18, 2020, we announced the need for the adjustment of the curfew orders in the Territory.
You would recall that the decision for the curfew became necessary in light of the discovery of a suspected COVID-19 case in the Territory on Thursday, 16 April, 2020, and the subsequent passing of the 52-year-old female patient at the Dr. D. Orlando Smith Hospital on Saturday, 18 April, 2020.
The Minister for Health and Social Development would have announced that on Friday, April 17, 24 samples were transported to CARPHA in Trinidad by the Regional Security System aircraft.
These samples were taken from the patient and 22 of her immediate contacts, as well as from Case #3 who was being retested to confirm recovery status.
We wish to inform you that CARPHA has confirmed that the BVI resident who succumbed to her condition tested positive for COVID-19.
Additionally, of the 22 samples tested, 21 samples tested negative for COVID-19 and one person has now tested positive for COVID-19.
This brings the total number of positive confirmed cases in the British Virgin Islands to date to 5.
This means, we have now three of the persons who were initially confirmed positive by CARPHA have now been verified by CARPHA as negative and fully recovered. To God be the Glory. However, we have one death, and the latest confirmed positive case is now in full isolation, and we pray for that individual’s full recovery.
People of the Virgin Islands; let me make it clear to you that we are not out of the woods. But at the same time, we will not lose hope. We will punch forward with Faith, and we continue to trade in our fear for our Faith.
For the most part, everyone in the BVI has been treating this pandemic seriously, and for this I say a big thank you.
But there is always room for improvement so let us hold each other accountable and keep each other safe by adhering to all the measures put in place for our safety.
I know that many are saying that COVID-19 is consuming their lives, but the reality is, we are in the COVID-19 era. In fact, the world is in the COVID-19 era and we are all trying to write the playbook as we go and will have to make the necessary sacrifices at this time to ensure that all hands are on deck because Faith without work is dead.
COVID-19 should not beat us; we must beat COVID-19.
Yes, the virus is invisible. Yes, the virus is a contagious spirit that you cannot see.
But can I tell you that we serve a GOD, who we can’t see, but He works, and works and He never stops working.
And, if we stop and think about the many testimonies of triumph in our lives; and the many victories that we could not see with our naked eyes, we would say that truly the battle is not ours, but it is the Lord’s.
But we have to keep working because victory cannot come without Faith in God and Faith cannot be made strong without works, individually and collectively.
That is why aggressive contact tracing is continuing so that we could identify and locate other persons who may have been in contact or close proximity with those who tested positive so that they too can be tested and monitored accordingly. And, we are keeping our minds open to any possibility, and this applies also to our Sister Islands.
So it is very difficult to have to impose more measures on all of us, but it necessary to do, to try to keep all of us alive.
This is why the further curfew is important. It will allow for containing any possible elements of community spreading of the virus, and it will allow the Health Officials the time they need to do thorough contact tracing.
As you are aware we have been forced to defer our plans for the phased lifting of the internal restrictions and the resumption of business internally.
Late last evening when Cabinet concluded, I made the following announcement of which I wish to reiterate at this time.
Cabinet agreed to instruct the Attorney General after advice from the National Security Council to extend the 24 hours Curfew for a period of 7 days from Sunday, 19th April 2020 until the Saturday, 25th April, 2020.
This means, from 6:00 a.m. Sunday, 19 April, 2020, until 25 April, 2020, a new curfew arrangement is now in place.
For these seven days, the curfew will be in effect for 24 hours daily, everyone, everyone must remain at home!
Yesterday, Cabinet has agreed the 24hrs curfew with the following provisions:
- Gas stations as authorised by the Governor shall be opened for the sole purpose of serving essential workers;
- Supermarkets, Pharmacies, water delivery services would be opened only for serving deliveries;
- Approved home delivery service for essential food supply only from approved supermarkets; and
- Approved Home deliveries of LPG (cooking gas).
- Cabinet agreed that the delivery of provision will be prioritise for Seniors and vulnerable with provision following others across the Territory.
- Cabinet also agreed for further discussion with supermarkets suppliers on the ordering and delivery capacity;
- Cabinet agreed for all other businesses not specified above are to be closed for the duration of the extended Curfew period.
Please bear in mind that the approved delivery companies, supermarkets and mini markets are not allowed to open to any member of the public, but solely to service deliveries to the public.
I also announced last evening that the Government would be financing basic food packages, which are to be delivered to all persons, district-by-district, who are in need.
I announced last evening that Cabinet would be meeting today, Sunday, April 19 2020, to deliberate and to make some further announcements so that everyone in the Virgin Islands would be clear how they will be able to access the food supply that will be coming to you, along with any medication persons may need.
Today, Cabinet in a Special Meeting approved the following:
- We received and noted the Situation Report for the Health Emergency Operations Centre (HEOC);
- We reviewed and approved as amended the HEOC Territorial Provisioning Logistical Plan.
- Cabinet agreed that the Deputy Governor instructs Public Officers as required to support the Territorial Provisioning Logistical Plan including ensuring sufficient capability for the Food Need Hotline (852-7688) and for the Approval Hotline; And I’ll like to pause at this time to let you to know that if you have not received any food an you are in need and other needs within this 7 days in terms of medication or food this is a specific hotline to call the number is 852-7688, again for persons who have not received any food or maybe out of food in terms of receiving the basic food package that Government will be supplying for you please call 852-7688.
- Cabinet agreed that passes would be issued electronically to approved suppliers, deliverers, Public Officers and volunteers with further arrangements to be taken forward with the Deputy Governor;
- Cabinet instructed the Attorney General’s Chambers to draft an amended Order to reflect relevant decisions of the Cabinet and National Security Council as follows:
- Bakeries for the purposes of deliveries only as approved;
- commercial farmers for delivery as approved;
- water production and delivery services as approved;
- persons engaged in legal and financial services as approved;
- heads of Financial Services Commission and Financial Investigation Agency;
- commercial fishermen as approved;
- deliveries to take place only between the hours of 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.;
- supermarkets’ staff may work in store 24 hours a day as presubscribed by the manager and owners;
- amend 4 (f) of the Curfew Order to include Wholesalers;
- gas stations to operate between the hours of 6:00 a.m. to 12noon;
- private and commercial boats (excluding freight and cargo boats) are prohibited from moving within the Territory’s water except where authorised for essential supplies; Simply put the only boats that will be allowed in the waters are those of freight and cargo.
- all businesses and individuals should abide by the Social Distancing and Health Protocols as set out by the HEOC
- approved the allocation of two million dollars ($2M) to the HEOC from the Consolidated Funds to the COVID-19 Fund for the purposes of food provisioning; Simply put your Government has decided to ensure that the finances of basic food packages to be delivered to you the people, those in terms of the seniors and those who are really in need will be the targeted group anyone else who have run out genuinely have run out of food the Government is paying for those food packages and to have them delivered to you.
- approved that Government from the funding set out at item (f) will cover the financial cost to suppliers and deliverers of the Government’s provided food packages; Again that reemphasize that your Government is ensuring that you get the necessary food that you need during the extended 7 day curfew for 24 hours per day.
- approved the allocation of eight hundred thousand dollars ($800,000) to the HEOC from the Consolidated Funds for the purpose of the House to House Garbage collection and Recycling initiative; and
- Cabinet also agreed that the Client Service Support Centre is supported by the Public Service as required for the management of those in quarantine.
As the Minister of Finance, I continue to say to my people of this Territory to fear not, panic not. I have instructed that we spare no efforts to ensure that for all those who are needy or in need of the food supply, that systems have been put in place to get it to you starting very aggressively from tomorrow. We will reach you at your home, fear not panic not.
During the extended curfew period, no one under my watch as Premier and Minister of Finance in this Territory will go hungry.
We thank all those NGOs that continue to help us during this time the Red Cross, Family Support Network, and many others especially Rotary who is on standby with almost 70 persons ready to the production line of getting the basic packages ready to be delivered to the people of the Virgin Islands, to your home sponsored by the Government of the Virgin Islands.
Again I want to state that under my watch as your Premier and Minister of Finance in this Territory that during the extended curfew period, no one will go hungry.
All of the measures we have put in place is to protect and prioritise the health and safety of persons of this Territory, and to ensure that we keep you as comfortable as possible during these uncomfortable time.
We are moving forward in the true spirit of BVILOVE.
Do continue to listen and adhere to the precautions as we continue to contain and mitigate local spread again.
We will maintain our ground in the fight against the virus.
We will not relax our hands, we run the risk of the virus gaining ground, and THIS MUST NOT HAPPEN.
Coronavirus is not playing around with us, and we in the BVI will not play around with it.
We have made these strides because of the hard work, dedication, and cooperation of all of us who are part of this mission – the Cabinet, National Security Council, Members of the House of Assembly, the Governor, the professionals in the Ministry of Health, Health Emergency Operation Centre (HEOC), Joint Information Cell (JIC) our protective services, the private sector, and you the people of these beautiful Virgin Islands.
Our collective mission is to prevent the loss of lives and to keep us all safe.
We have a golden opportunity to contain this matter, and we thank you the people of this Territory for understanding the need for a few days more to complete the contact tracing to try to avoid any means of contact community spread.
Just remember, we cannot tell by looking at someone whether they have it or not, whether they are a carrier or not, whether they have it, but are just not showing symptoms.
Persons in the Virgin Islands who are experiencing a fever with cough or difficulty breathing are encouraged to contact the medical hotline at 852-7650.
Again, persons in the Virgin Islands who are experiencing a fever with cough or difficulty breathing are encouraged to contact the medical hotline at 852-7650.
We are in this together, and together we will get through this.
So let us fear not, panic not.
For He who is able to keep us will sustain us.
We must continue to remain in prayers, turning fear into Faith, uniting and cooperating, and being patient and dedicated to our mission.
With God’s Hand guiding us and guiding the work of our medical professionals, and our decisions as a Territory, WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS TOGETHER!
Let us continue to be where God is! For where GOD IS we are and where we are GOD IS!
God in His Word promises to never leave us nor forsake us once we remain in Him, and He in us.
So people of these beloved beautiful Virgin Islands, I repeat again to you, to inform you, to fear not and panic not and please be mindful that if you find that food has been distributed to you District area and have not received food as yet in terms of the basic package that will be giving out to all families in need in the Virgin Islands, please call 852-7688 this will help us to help you to make sure that everyone in these Virgin Islands who need supplies and medication during these next 7 days of this extended 24 hour curfew will have what you need.
May God for ever Bless these Virgin Islands I thank you and may God continue to look over us all as we continue this fight against COVID-19 with God’s help, we will prevail.