STATEMENT BY DEPUTY PREMIER AND MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HONOURABLE CARVIN MALONE,
REGARDING THE ONGOING RESPONSE TO COVID-19
21ST MAY 2020
Thank you Premier and a very pleasant good evening to everyone.
As the Premier announced, we are about to enter a new chapter of the Territorial Re-opening process where passenger aircraft will be permitted to land at the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport to facilitate the re-entry of BVI nationals and permanent residents during the first phase.
Having largely contained COVID-19 transmission within the Territory and cautiously managed the internal reopening process in a manner that promotes public safety, this border re-opening process must also be carefully handled in order to guard against an upsurge of the virus.
A precautionary approach remains important in the context of 4.8 million cases and 319,000 deaths recorded globally, with approximately 2 million recoveries. Close to 21,000 positive cases are recorded in the Caribbean, with 784 deaths and 9450 recoveries.
After testing 161 persons locally with lab results confirmed by CARPHA, the BVI has recorded no new cases that we have to report. As I previously announced, we had 8 positive cases to date, we had 6 persons who actually recovered, and we had one death and one active case and the person remains in isolation.
Given the unrelenting nature of this pandemic, the border reopening process requires that we consistently implement a comprehensive range of measures to detect, contain, mitigate and manage the disease. In simple terms, this means that every person coming into the Territory will be subject to pre-arrival screening, health screening on arrival, ongoing monitoring during a 14-day mandatory quarantine period, and testing to confirm their COVID-19 status.
Persons may be allowed to quarantine at home or in alternative private accommodations, or may be placed in a government quarantine facility for the duration of the 14 day period.
As previously stated, persons with suitable accommodations for home quarantine will be given priority in the first phase of re-entry. Quarantine in homes and other private locations can only be permitted after the properties have been inspected and approved by the Environmental Health Division. The placement will be confirmed as part of the re-entry registration process. This form will be placed online on Monday.
Each person who has been approved to quarantine in a non-governmental quarantine facility will be required to adhere to the established quarantine guidelines.
The person or family being quarantined must be housed separately from other persons.
No visitors are allowed at the home or other quarantine location.
Each bedroom being used should be well-ventilated with a window that can be opened to enable air flow in order to keep clean air moving through the room.
Instructions will be provided for individuals to self-monitor their health for the next 14 days and immediately report to their Surveillance officer (SO), if they develop symptoms suggestive of COVID-19. This will be followed app with many calls from the Surveillance Teams.
Each individual will be tested on day 14 and will be discharge from quarantine provided they have not come into contact with a COVID-19 case and laboratory test results are negative. Once cleared the individual will be provided with the Quarantine Release Certificate and if necessary a Return to Work form.
Persons who wish to have their homes or other properties inspected for the purpose of accommodating someone who is expected to return home within the next few weeks are invited to call the Government’s Customer Care Centre at 494-3701 and provide details of the property.
The period leading up to June 15th will also provide an opportunity to secure additional properties for government quarantine accommodations. With the launch of the electronic Re-entry Registration Form on Monday, 25th May, nationals and permanent residents currently overseas will be encouraged to submit information that would give us a better understanding of the number of persons to be accommodated over the upcoming three-month period. This information will also help to determine the scheduling of flights.
The successful implementation of the COVID-19 Phased Restricted Borders Reopening Plan is conditional on the adequacy of screening capabilities, testing capacity, quarantine and isolation facilities, no community transmission or spikes in infection, as well as the robustness of the Territory’s health system to deal with COVID-19 related issues and deliver essential health services.
Significant investments have been made to strengthen capacities in all these areas by the Government of the Virgin Islands, private donors, and the United Kingdom Government. Today, I want to again highlight and express appreciation to Public Health England for its generous contributions of medical equipment and supplies that have helped to place the BVI Health Services Authority in a strong position to meet the future demands for COVID-19 testing and treatment.
Persons experiencing flu-like symptoms or needing any COVID-19 related or any other medical consultation can call the medical hotline on 852-7650.
I am also grateful to the United Kingdom Government, OECS Commission and the Cuban Government for supporting our request for assistance from Medical Response Teams from Cuba, and we await the finalisation of the terms of agreement between the parties. We would give a comprehensive and detailed report of all expenditures that have been placed under the guardianship under the Ministry of Health and all aspects of it. We continue to monitor all aspects of COVID-19 so that we can continue to keep our Virgin Islands safe. I have stated before, I will state again; because we kept the numbers down, there would be a lot of details and speculations as to what all we could have or would have done. If the numbers had spiked, if the numbers were plenty, we would be having a different conversation, I’d rather the first. I thank you very much.