STATEMENT GIVEN BY THE DEPUTY PREMIER AND MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HONOURABLE CARVIN MALONE
AT THE TWELFTH SITTING OF THE SECOND SESSION OF THE FOURTH HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY IN THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
ON FRIDAY 10TH JULY, 2020
Mister Speaker, the Government of the Virgin Islands continually monitors the evolution and progression of the COVID-19 pandemic as infections spread with increasing veracity in our region of the world. We remain committed to keeping the public engaged and informed, and I am grateful for this opportunity to present yet another progress report on the Territory’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mister Speaker, testing remains an important element of our strategy to limit the transmission of the virus. The BVI Health Services Authority has tested 622 individuals, with 614 returning negative and 8 positive results to date. Currently there are no active cases. The laboratory currently has capacity to conduct another 3,020 COVID-19 tests in-house, and testing is mainly being carried out on:
- Persons who meet the case definition for COVID-19
- All Emergency Room admissions
- All Hospital Inpatients
- All persons undergoing surgery
- Persons requiring COVID-19 tests for travel
- Health Care Workers based on exposure risk
- Health Care Workers requesting COVID 19 testing;
- Persons being detained who entered the Territory illegally; and
- All returning residents exiting mandatory quarantine.
Mister Speaker, activities being implemented as part of the H-EOC National Acton Plan against the COVID-19 Pandemic continue to focus on managing the risk of imported cases while simultaneously monitoring workplace preventive measures.
Of the 412 persons who have now returned to the Territory since our borders reopened to Nationals and Permanent Residents on the 2nd of June, 226 have been released from quarantine after testing negative for the virus that causes COVID-19. Approximately 100 nationals are expected to arrive in the Territory in July of 2020.
To date, a total of 607 persons have been verified by Immigration and cleared for re-entry and 75 of the registrations did not meet the requirements established for individuals to re-enter the Territory during Phase 1 of the Restricted Border Re-Opening Plan.
Mister Speaker, in terms of workplace preventive measures, the members of the Compliance Teams and Social Distancing Task Force inspected close to 1,400 businesses with approximately 96% of these meeting the requirements for re-opening. In addition to the businesses that met the re-opening criteria, 64 churches were approved based on their compliance with established procedures. Engagement was also had with entities that provide janitorial, car rental, taxi and trucking services. Sixteen of the 18 schools inspected were approved subject to reopen once a decision is made by Cabinet on the re-opening of educational facilities. Continuous monitoring of the entities that were approved to reopen is ongoing, Mister Speaker, and to date 514 post-approval inspections were conducted to ensure sustained compliance with the requisite COVID-19 prevention measures related to physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory etiquette.
Mister Speaker, in this regard it cannot be over-emphasised that as responsible and considerate members of this community we must continue to do our part to keep ourselves and others safe from COVID-19 infection. Despite our low infection rate, we cannot allow the community to become desensitised or complacent at a time when the danger of an outbreak is increasing all around us.
Mister Speaker, it is important to note that it has now become necessary to pursue strict enforcement of COVID-19 suppression measures related to physical distancing and sanitisation coupled with strong community vigilance, individual responsibility and a robust continuous public awareness. More information on these enforcement measures will be communicated to the public in the days and weeks ahead.
Mister Speaker, one need only to look and examine the statistics from our neighbours in the region, North America, south America, Europe throughout the world to become all too familiar that hospitals-there beds, equipment are becoming overwhelm, we can either call it, mister speaker, the end of the first wave our the beginning of the second wave.
Establishments that were opened are now beginning to close again if we monitor and if we adhere to the protocols then we would not have to return to a close down environment, mister speaker, it is little to ask for the safety of the lives and for the protection of livelihoods.
Mister Speaker, these steps are necessary if we are to continue to enjoy the freedoms of internal re-opening, economic re-booting, and opening of our borders to international travelers returning home or coming to our shores to contribute to our economy.
I once again strongly encourage all of us to do our part to consistently adhere to the physical distancing and sanitisation guidelines that have been put in place for our protection. I cannot leave without thanking the hardworking HEOC team, the Cabinet, the House of Assembly Members, the entire Civil Service and all of the agencies that have worked tirelessly to get us to this point, we cannot get weary in well doing. Thank you, very much, Mister Speaker.