A special goodnight as we continue to navigate this COVID-19 surge. I am your Minister for Health and Social Development, Carvin Malone.
Let me first begin by offering sincere condolences on behalf of the Premier and the Government of the Virgin Islands, to the family of Mr. Baronville on the passing of a son, a brother, uncle, nephew and friend in this terrible and awful time. No doubt, this tragic event today has left us all mindful of the effects this dreaded disease has had on families in this Territory. I pray God gives you his continued guidance and strength during what I am sure is a difficult time.
As we continue to write BVI’s National Book on COVID-19, today’s pages highlight some decisions taken by Cabinet at a meeting held today. We were updated by the Health Emergency Operations Centre, the Unified Command team. As we continue to navigate the high surge of COVID cases in this Territory, Cabinet decided that the National Security Council request the Attorney General to draft a new Curfew Order to impose a fourteen day curfew from 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. effective 9th July, 2021, with the exception of essential workers.
Cabinet further endorsed the setting up of a field hospital by the BVI Health Services Authority and the Ministry of Health and Social Development to accommodate the efficient administration of care for COVID-19 patients.
You heard that we can house up to 26 beds. We can only have all the equipment we need if we need none of the equipment that we have. So, we must go along that path again. In addition, Cabinet also decided to amend the Public Health Control and Suppression Measures (No.4) Order, 2021 to restrict all restaurants to take out services only for the period of the Curfew Order.
Furthermore, Cabinet also decided that for fourteen (14 days) effective July 9th, 2021 persons would be advised to limit their movement and stay at home, where possible, and that no loitering or gathering be encouraged. This decision is expected to be reviewed on a regular basis to determine whether further measures (including a 24-hour lockdown) may be required to limit movement in order to further reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the Territory. This decision is yours in terms of how we can see adherence to this curfew order. During the daytime hours refrain from the loitering tendencies.
In addition, Cabinet agreed to allocate an initial sum of five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000) for the purpose of securing resources and personnel to address the surge in COVID-19 cases in the Territory. These funds will be monitored and approved by the Financial Secretary together with the Ministry of Health and Social Development before any funds are expended for this purpose. Resources continue to be allocated to fight this. The situation in this Territory remains a troubling one, but I continue to admonish all of us to follow the measures, as that is the only true way we are going to get through this.
What we have to do is to look in terms of what will be required in order to get this done. We cannot determine what our fate may be with regional and global events. Ladies and gentlemen, we must continue to follow public health protocols such as wearing your face masks. We must practice frequent hand hygiene. We must maintain physical distance in public spaces, and we must get vaccinated as it is our best tool to reduce the transmission of the virus.
It is a proven fact that vaccination work. As you may be well aware, the current doses of vaccines that we have will expire on July 31, but we have continued to administer first doses. The rate of administration is not high enough. We need that rate to be increased because the UK has already indicated through the Governor that another 3,040 doses will be supplied on the 19th of July 2021 and this batch will expire sometime in August. In August they have committed to more, but it will not make any sense for us to continue to get these doses if we do not use them effectively. We have to know that it’s a matter of lives and it is a matter of livelihoods. It is not a conversation anymore, this is real.
In addition, the UK has also already indicated that 15,000 home kits for monitoring COVID-19 are on the way. Public Health England with the UK’s commitment has afforded us forthcoming assistance. We will find ways in which those persons who are requiring Pfizer and Moderna vaccines could possibly have access to them if this is your only hold up from vaccination. We will seek ways in which we can do this. We will give you a hotline number that you can call and we will see how this can be done. Everything must be done to return the Virgin Islands to the Virgin Islands that we can roam free without the fear of this virus.
Ladies and gentlemen, your Government has done all that we can to prepare for this disease and the impact that it has now brought on us. But we must now take personal responsibility for our lives and our livelihoods and by extension our family.
You must remember this is not just about you individually! This is about your children, your mother, your father, your uncles, aunts, cousins! It is about your income and your ability to make a living! It is about this Territory’s economy and our ability to come out of this on the other side as survivors!
I will continue to reiterate the fact that new, more aggressive variants continue to emerge. The virus mutates and spreads rapidly from one region to another, increasing the risk of severe illness and death. The reality is none of us know how the virus will affect us. We simply must be vigilant and do the next best thing. Do not wait, VACCINATE! We will find whichever brand that you think is the best for you. Dr. Georges and Dr. Potter has told me that the best brand is the one that we have now. The best manufacturer is the one that we have, but there are those of you that will think otherwise. Remember, protect yourself, your loved ones and your economy! I thank you.