STATEMENT GIVEN BY THE DEPUTY PREMIER AND MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HONOURABLE CARVIN MALONE
AT THE ELEVENTH SITTING OF THE SECOND SESSION OF THE FOURTH HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY IN THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
ON FRIDAY 26TH JUNE, 2020
Mister Speaker, in fulfillment of our commitment to keeping the public informed, I am pleased to bring another progress report on the Territory’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Phase One of the Restricted Border Reopening Plan continues be rolled out with 255 nationals and permanent residents having arrived since commercial flights resumed with a weekly arrival average of 79 travelers. A total of One hundred Nine (109) returning nationals have been released from quarantine as of yesterday, after testing negative for the virus that causes COVID-19.
Mister Speaker, the Government is satisfied with the progress that has been made thus far to provide a safe and efficient process for our relatives and friends to return home, while carefully managing the risk of importing new cases. Should a new case be detected we are well poised to detect it through active monitoring and testing, contain it through secure quarantine and contact tracing arrangements, and effectively manage it through the delivery of the best available healthcare services.
Mister Speaker, a total of 621 reentry registrations have been received with 500 verified by the Immigration Department. Sixty-nine (69) of the registration requests did not meet the requirements established for individuals to re-enter the Territory during Phase 1 of the Restricted Border Re-Opening Plan.
For the remainder of June 2020, approximately 78 more nationals and permanent residents are expected to arrive in the Territory and 80 arrivals scheduled for July.
Mister Speaker we are very pleased that no new positive cases have been detected in the Territory since the end of March. Together with Public Health England, the BVI testing capacity now stands at 3,150. Pre-emptive COVID-19 testing continues to be carried out on:
- Persons who meet the case definition for COVID-19
- All Emergency Room admissions
- All Hospital Inpatients
- All persons undergoing surgery
- All persons returning residents exiting quarantine
- Persons requiring COVID-19 tests for travel; and
- Health Care Workers
A total of 439 persons have been tested to date, with eight (8) positive results and 431 persons testing negative for the virus.
Mister Speaker we are well aware that our borders are being reopened at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose a serious threat to lives and livelihoods around the world.
Nine million, seven hundred and eighty-two thousand seven hundred and seventy-three (9,782,773) cases have been recorded by the World Health Organization to date, with forty-nine thousand eight hundred and forty-seven (49,847) of these in the Caribbean region. Of specific interest to the BVI are the destinations from which or citizens and visitors are known to transit.
The steady increase of cases in numerous cities throughout the United States of America, increases in the Dominican Republic, in Puerto Rico and in the United Kingdom must be taken into account as we ready ourselves to further open our borders.
I close by reminding all of us of the sobering realities of this disease. In order for us to continue on the path to full internal reopening and border reopening without placing lives at undue risk, we all must continue to do our part to keep safe, and protect those around us by observing physical distancing, hygiene and santization guidelines, which are designed to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
Our hard working members and support teams of the Health Emergency Operations Center continue to upgrade our capacities and readiness for all challenges that may be faced as a result of COVID-19.
Mister Speaker, it is critical for everyone to appreciate that this Government fully understand that we cannot live in fear, quite the contrary Mister Spearker, with preemptive steps and as we open our economy; our people can survive and our economy can thrive. Let us all continue to do our part. Thank you Mister Speaker.