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The British Virgin Islands’ response to COVID-19 has been presented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as a model for the Eastern Caribbean.
The UNDP’s Deputy Resident Representative for Barbados and the OECS, Mr. Ugo Blanco praised the BVI’s leadership in the regional response to the COVID-19 pandemic in remarks at the UN development agencey's official virtual presentation of its joint report with ISGlobal. The report titled, ‘COVID-19 Policy Reports for Recovery in the Eastern Caribbean: Analysis, Scenarios and Considerations for Opening to Tourism,’ was launched on March 30.
ISGlobal representative, Mr. Carlos Chaccour in his presentation on the report, stated that the health and entry protocols adopted by the BVI were highly effective in safely reopening and managing its borders to restart the tourism sector.
Meanwhile, Special Envoy of the Premier Mr. Benito Wheatley said that Territory’s approach to border management in the context of public health and the ongoing pandemic, falls within the recommendations of UNDP and ISGlobal, as is highlighted in the report.
Mr. Wheatley said, “At the same time, we are working diligently to accelerate vaccination of the population to reduce the risk posed to the public by COVID-19. This will allow health and social restrictions and entry requirements to eventually be eased so the tourism, hospitality and entertainment sectors can fully function.”
Mr. Wheatley warned that the hurricane season also presents a potential risk to progress on economic recovery.
“I would like to remind colleagues that the hurricane season begins in two months,” he said, adding, “We consider the biggest risk to our economic recovery from the pandemic in the latter half of the year to be potential disruptions from hurricanes, storms, excess rain and flooding. We do not want this particular risk posed to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) by climate change to be lost in our dialogue about the pandemic. We must tackle both risks at the same time.”
The Special Envoy of the Premier thanked UNDP and ISGlobal for their support to the region and said he welcomed the BVI being upheld as a model for COVID-19 response in the Eastern Caribbean following successful management of the pandemic, low numbers of cases and deaths and basic functioning of the economy relative to other countries in the region.
Permanent Secretary Dr. Carolyn O’Neal-Morton and Protocol Officer Dr. Lavon Chalwell-Brewley also attended the meeting on behalf of the Premier’s Office.
NOTE TO EDITORS:
Group photo of launch of UNDP/ISGlobal report