STATEMENT GIVEN BY THE MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HONOURABLE CARVIN MALONE
ON FRIDAY, 28TH AUGUST, 2020
COVID-19 UPDATE- TWENTY-SIX ACTIVE COVID-19 CASES
I extend greetings to everyone in the Virgin Islands; the Caribbean and our people residing throughout the world.
When the BVI borders were partially re-opened on June 2nd 2020 to nationals and Belongers I reported that 157 persons had been swabbed and tested and that Case #8 had been reported positive just days prior.
In subsequent reports; on Wednesday August 19th case #12 was reported; on Friday August 21st cases #13 through #21 were reported; on Monday August 24th cases #22 through #26 were reported and as at that date, August 24th there were 2,195 persons tested up from 157 persons tested just 82 days prior.
Today, Friday August 28th, in our commitment to keeping you fully informed I am reporting that a total of 529 persons were tested from the 25th through the 27th of August. These persons were mainly comprised of primary and secondary contacts of recently identified cases #12 through #26. Swabs and testing included residents of Anegada, returning nationals and Belongers and other categories of persons routinely tested for COVID-19.
I am further reporting that five hundred and twenty (520) of these results were returned as negative while nine (9) were returned as positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.
With these additional findings, the total number of positive cases recorded in the Territory is now thirty-five (35) with eight (8) recoveries, one (1) death, and twenty-six (26) cases remaining active.
Two (2) persons are currently hospitalized and I am pleased to report that none of the patients are experiencing severe symptoms of the COVID-19 disease, at this time.
The combined total number of persons now tested stands at 2,853 – up from 2,195 persons tested as reported just four (4) days ago -- an increase of some 658 tested within a four day period.
As our contact tracing efforts continue to bear fruit, the nine newly identified cases were linked to known clusters on the eastern end of Tortola and in Road Town. Persons testing positive for COVID-19 have been placed in isolation and their households and other close contacts placed in quarantine as case-finding and testing activities expand.
You will be pleased to learn, and I am pleased to report that all 292 residents of Anegada who were tested as part of the community screening exercise earlier this week have had negative test results. Specific travel restrictions to and from the island of Anegada expired at 5:00 a.m. this morning, Friday, August 28th as provided in the Imposition of the 2020 Curfew Order #28.
On behalf of the Government and the entire COVID-19 response team, I wish to thank the residents of Anegada for their cooperation during this unnerving period and encourage them to continue taking precautionary measures against the spread of COVID-19 in their close knit community.
On another note and in assistance to the contact tracing team and the wellbeing of all citizens, a special appeal is being made to persons who visited the following establishments over the period 15th to 22nd August to contact the Medical Hotline at 852-7650 to schedule an appointment for FREE testing:
- Ramons in Huntums Ghut
- The Vault in Long Bush
- The Edge in Long Bush
- The Avenue in Mill Mall
- All bars and night clubs in Fat Hogs Bay and Paraquita Bay
Again, the number to call is 852-7650. Again, testing is free.
Also, I appeal to any person who is experiencing any symptoms related to COVID-19 such as fever, cough, headache, fatigue, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, muscle aches, or difficulty breathing to call 852-7650 to get tested. Testing is free.
For persons residing on Virgin Gorda who are experiencing symptoms or who have had a recent exposure or otherwise consider themselves at risk for COVID-19, walk-in testing services will be provided in Valley, Virgin Gorda on Friday, the 28th of August and Monday, the 31st of August from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Anglican Church Hall. No appointment is necessary and testing is free.
More details will be forthcoming on the arrangements for testing planned for Sea Cows Bay and East End during the coming week.
Before I continue, I have been informed of the growing trend of persons seeking to be hostile or dismissive against persons who are or rumoured to be associates of known positive cases. I kindly ask that you cease and desist from this unwelcome behaviour. It is wrong and it must stop. This will cause persons to fear coming forward and the end result is not favourable to you, your family or your friends.
Commendation is extended to the Public Health and Community Health teams for the fantastic work they have been doing under challenging circumstances. They remain committed to the mission to find, isolate and treat every case; trace and test every contact, and interrupt the spread of the virus in our Territory. We are grateful for their dedication and perseverance.
As Minister for Health I stand before you from time to time and become the voice of these reports. I oft wonder if there is a full appreciation of the human resources and of the investments that Government have committed towards our response to COVID-19.
Yes, you oft hear of Cabinet, the HEOC and of the House of Assembly – but there are public and private persons and enterprises that you may never hear of. These are the person who stand in the front line of the Territory’s response.
You may never hear about our laboratory professionals who because of training and investments in the PCR equipment for testing were positioned to conclude and submit approximately 2,700 credible test results in a timely and efficient manner.
You may never see the faces of our efficient contact-tracing teams who, as we speak, are following up on leads connected to all of our active cases.
Our private and public security firms and personnel charged with ensuring full compliance with isolation and quarantine protocols. These are but a few.
I repeat, if you do your part, we can get through this together. This is not the time to major in the minor. I have oft reported that, “We can only be confident that the BVI would have all of the equipment that we need if we need none of the equipment that we have”.
With all these efforts and sacrifices I become concerned and alarmed when anyone does anything that may or will retard the progress and sacrifices that all of us have made.
On that note, commendation is also extended to the wider community for your compliance with the Curfew Order, and trust that the inconveniences we suffer during this short period will produce the result of further limiting the spread of COVID-19. None of us would like to have these measures remain in place for longer than necessary.
Business and other establishments allowed to operate under the Curfew Order are reminded to submit requests for curfew passes for persons required to work after 5:00 p.m. by emailing the details to firstname.lastname@example.org. Operators of vessels requesting permission to travel within Territorial waters during the curfew period are also asked to email the request to email@example.com.
The Health Emergency Operations Centre will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and provide evidence-based advice to Cabinet on the way forward. Regular updates and announcements can be found on the Government’s website www.bvi.gov.vg/covid-19 and other official sources of information.
Thank you for your attention and your full cooperation. May God continue to bless each of us. May GOD bless the British Virgin Islands.