STATEMENT BY HONOURABLE CARVIN MALONE
MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
COVID UPDATE - ARRIVAL OF PFIZER VACCINE
December 16, 2021
Season greetings is extended to everyone in the Virgin Islands, the region and the world. Thank you Governor Rankin. I acknowledge the presence of the Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Georges. I am your Minister for Health and Social Development, Carvin Malone.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to update you on our current COVID-19 situation as well as to give you some good news regarding the arrival of the Pfizer vaccine, which will offer us another line of protection against the COVID virus and its many variants!
Let me repeat what I have stated throughout these trying times. We are not out of the woods! As of today December 16, the Virgin Islands has recorded a total of 2,922 positive cases including 117 tests that were completed today. Of the cases recorded there are 2,793 recoveries; 39 deaths; and I am reporting a rising total of 90 POSITIVE CASES!
We are not out of the woods ladies and gentlemen. REMAIN VIGILANT!
COVID positive cases are on the rise regionally and internationally as well! Since its publication of December 6, 2021, CARPHA is reporting that an additional 13,682 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in 32 countries within the Caribbean – bringing the region’s total confirmed cases to 2,193,737 in 35 countries/territories (including the 26 CARPHA Member States).
The new total represents a 0.6% increase in the number of confirmed cases. There were 28,525 deaths recorded in the Caribbean region as of December 13, 2021.
CARPHA is reporting that the risk of further cases occurring in the Caribbean remains very high. Therefore, countries must continue to focus on interrupting viral transmission and reducing mortality associated with COVID-19.
WE ARE NOT OUT OF THE WOODS!
Here at home, I feel the need to remind us all about the surge we had back in July, that claimed the lives of 38 of our families, friends and loved ones. WE DO NOT WANT ANOTHER SITUATION LIKE THAT TO BEFALL US! We are in the midst of the holiday season, and traditionally it is a time filled with mass gatherings, love, laughter and close contact. BUT THESE ARE NOT NORMAL TIMES!
We are not in a normal situation and therefore we cannot proceed as normal. We have to follow the Public Health protocols that have been guiding us well almost over these past two years. Let us not stray away from that. Wash and/or sanitise your hands (~20 seconds), wear your mask and ensure that it properly covers your nose and mouth.
Maintain a physical distance of three feet and cover coughs and sneezes regardless of your vaccination status.
Over the last three days we continue to see the COVID positive cases increasing. Despite the fact that the clusters of positive cases are under control and quarantined, we cannot help but re-iterate the importance of limiting social gatherings, wearing masks, reducing close contact, limiting partying, Christmas events and other social interactions.
Our natural immunity continues to wane as time goes by, making us collectively more susceptible to contracting COVID. This is where the good news comes in! Yesterday, we received another shipment of vaccines from the UK! Finally, after many months of planning and putting systems in place we now have capacity to house the Pfizer vaccine. Thanks to the UK we received 4,680 doses of Pfizer and 2000 doses of AstraZeneca to strengthen our immunization programme.
This is a very pivotal moment for us in this fight against COVID-19 because now we get to add another tool to our resources. We are now in a position to offer boosters and third doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine!
Throughout this pandemic, I have been very clear on my stance on promoting vaccination because it is our best offense against COVID-19.
It pleases my heart to know that we are now in a position to continue to arm our community with the necessary tools to aid them in this long battle with COVID-19, including that critical age of group of adolescents and teenagers who have not been able to access the vaccine through the USVI/BVI Vaccination Initiative currently in place. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity that many of our Caribbean brothers and sisters do not have access to!
I want to thank the UK for their continual, unwavering commitment to keep us stocked with vaccines. Now that the Pfizer vaccine has been added to our arsenal we will begin vaccination as early as tomorrow December 17th until December 18th. But please, do not all come at once! We expect to do this in an orderly process based on the schedule of priority groups to be outlined by the Chief Medical Officer.
Looking at our vaccination statistics, 16,935 persons are fully vaccinated while an addition 1,482 persons awaiting their second dose. These numbers are good, but that is not enough. I will continue to advocate for vaccination as it one of the top defenses against this dreaded disease that has claimed and continues to claim the lives of millions worldwide. We need more of our people protected.
We need persons to top-up their immunity with the boosters now available and accessible to you! Remember we are not out of the woods.
Please adhere to Public Health protocols and remain vigilant. Protect yourself; protect each other and protect the community by getting vaccinated today!
We don’t want anyone else to suffer the devastating effects of this virus. Let us stand unified as a community. Government will continue to do its best in keeping the Virgin Islands safe, but you have a part play too in your own protection and the protection of the community.
Don’t procrastinate; vaccinate!
May God bless you and may God bless these beautiful Virgin Islands.