Public Health Communications Specialist
Ministry of Health/Social Development
STATEMENT BY HONOURABLE CARVIN MALONE
MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
COVID-19 UPDATE –CABINET DECISISONS
September 30, 2021
I extend greetings to everyone in the Virgin Islands, the Region and the World. I extend prayers and words of condolences to all families who have lost loved ones during this trying period, whether by COVID or other causes.
In the BVI we continue to recognize and appreciate the challenges faced by the island nations of Jamaica, Bahamas, Bermuda, Grenada, St. Lucia, Antigua, St, Vincent, St. Kitts and others.
The Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ronald Georges have reported that of the 81,850 COVID samples analyzed at the Dr. D. Orlando Smith Hospital 2,718 were declared as positive. While 2,635 cases have recovered; 37 deaths have occurred and there currently exist 46 active cases. Only three of the 46 cases were discovered on entry testing during days 0; 7 and 14. The most troubling aspect of the report is that 43 of the 46 cases were found within the community. Clearly, my people, we are not out of the woods.
At the Cabinet Meeting held on 29th September, 2021 it was decided:
- That Cabinet has recommended that the Curfew which expires on the 3rd of October be extended for a further period of 14 days to the 17th of October.
- That the Public Health (COVID-19 Control and Suppression Measures) Order, which expires on 30th September, 2021 be extended.
- That fully vaccinated staff and patrons at nightclubs be required to provide identification and proof of vaccination;
- That partially vaccinated staff and patrons at nightclubs be required to provide the negative result of a rapid test no older than seven (7) days;
- That adjustments be made to the Entry Protocols to allow all vessels with only fully vaccinated captain, crew and passengers, including foreign based charter boats to travel to the Territory and enter at the designated, fully vaccinated ports of entry of (Great Harbour – Jost Van Dyke, Sopher's Hole - West End and Spanish Town - Virgin Gorda)
Again, as we continue to reopen our Territory, we are keenly aware of the challenges being faced all around the region and indeed the world. Tonight it is important for me to bring some important developments to the attention of the listening public.
While the Ministry has been detecting and managing several small clusters of Covid-19 across the Territory we have not seen a return to the type of transmission that resulted in the spike in cases seen several months ago. As the Government continues to relax protocols to allow economic activity, we have to remain vigilant and continue to adhere to public health measures and quarantine orders for persons who may be found positive and their contacts.
It would have been reported in the media that there has been an outbreak associated with a construction company on the island of Virgin Gorda. This large cluster occurred within a company with over 90% vaccination coverage where 30 persons were found to be positive for coronavirus across the organization. This represented 30 out of 76 or 39% of all reported employees of the company the majority of whom are vaccinated persons. This is indeed quite concerning.
This week the Ministry of Health received reports from CARPHA of genetic typing of samples collected in late August. Of the samples sent for genetic typing, four were reported positive for Mu - a variant of interest AND one was reported positive for Delta – a variant of concern. What this means is that these two variants are circulating in the Territory.
The Mu variant is thought to be able to escape immunity and we are seeing in this cluster is a large number of persons who are vaccinated and also positive. We are NOT out of the woods. This week, additional samples have been sent for typing and the results will be reported in the next two weeks when CARPHA delivers the results of the genetic typing.
It is understandable and it is critical for the Ministry to move swiftly and decisively to ensure that any potential situation is curtailed. In a proactive measure, a number of cases and their close contacts, including vaccinated persons, have been quarantined. The public is asked to continue to remain vigilant and cooperate with the authorities as all measures taken are aimed at reducing hospitalization, avoiding fatalities and to facilitate the complete re-opening of our borders.
Uptake of the vaccine has increased with the implementation of measures to require vaccination for certain entertainment facilities and changes in the US entry requirements. The BVI has therefore run short of vaccine while we await the next shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines on the 7th of October 2021.
To date the vaccination rate stands at 51.6% representing 15,468 persons being registered as fully vaccinated. Another 2,139 persons await their 2nd doses which, once completed, the number of persons fully vaccinated will be 58.7% representing 17,607 persons. While these figures are headed in the right direction the fact remains that we are seeking to attain a fully vaccinated goal of 75% which will represent 22,500 persons. We are NOT there yet!
The last batch of AstraZeneca vaccines expired today September 30th. The United Kingdom Government continues to honour its pledge to supply the total number of AstraZeneca vaccine doses required for all eligible persons residing in the British Virgin Islands. The next batch of vaccines will arrive on Thursday October 7th and will be available to the public on Friday October 8th.
Orders have been placed for the purchase of the super sub-zero cold storage facility that would be required for the storage of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The British Government will honour their pledge to supply all amounts of both vaccines required for eligible persons, including school aged children from 12 to 17.
Before I end, I want to appeal to persons to adhere to their quarantine orders. Quarantine is the way we stop the viral spread of the disease. It is very important to this Territory that persons abide by the restrictions placed through their quarantine orders. The Public Health Unit, Environmental Health Division and the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force are working together to crack down on breaches to quarantine orders and enforcement of covid-19 public health measures.
We have not only increased enforcement to breaches in quarantine orders, we have also increased enforcement of other public health measures. So remember to abide by your quarantine orders, adhere to public health measures and sanitize, wear your masks and social distance when necessary.
Remember, we can only get through this if we do it together. Each of us doing our part to think safety and behave safely. Stay safe and may God continue to bless our beautiful Virgin Islands. Thank you for listening.