STATEMENT GIVEN BY THE DEPUTY PREMIER
MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HONOURABLE CARVIN MALONE
ON FRIDAY 24TH JULY, 2020
COVID-19 UPDATE: JOST VAN DYKE
Fellow Virgin Islanders, residents and friends, good evening. I am pleased to bring you another COVID-19 report and update you on the ongoing community quarantine and testing intervention on the island of Jost Van Dyke.
As previously reported, the Public Health (Covid-19 Control and Suppression Measures - Jost Van Dyke) Order, 2020, came into force on Tuesday, the 21st of July, 2020.
It restricts the movement of persons and vessels on a 24-hour basis until 5:01 a.m. on Tuesday the 28th day of July 2020 and requires all Jost Van Dyke residents and recent visitors to be subject to contact tracing and testing for the COVID-19 virus.
This decision was taken as a precautionary intervention to help detect, prevent or interrupt the spread of COVID-19 in persons residing on, or visiting, Jost Van Dyke, following the recent notification and subsequent verification of a positive case detected in St. Vincent and the Grenadines with links to the island of Jost Van Dyke. Seventeen (17) close contacts on Jost Van Dyke, as well as four (4) on Tortola, were immediately quarantined and tested and all results returned negative for the virus that causes COVID-19.
As of Thursday, the 23rd of July, our national laboratory had tested a total of 1,253 persons for COVID-19 with 1,245 persons testing negative and eight (8) positive results. These results include 316 samples collected on Jost Van Dyke; 20 on Tortola and 3 on Virgin Gorda between Tuesday the 21st and Thursday the 23rd of July, all of which have tested negative.
Today Friday 24th July, an additional 19 samples were collected by Health personnel on Jost van Dyke as they continue to carry out testing with the goal of covering the remaining population. The results of the 19 samples would be reported when received.
In addition to the 20 samples on Tortola, all persons visiting Jost Van Dyke during the month of July are encouraged to come forward for testing by calling the Medical Hotline at 852-7650 to set up an appointment.
It is important to clearly state that it would never be the Government’s intention to victimize the residents of our sister island. The medical fact is that the global and regional case numbers and the severity of medical conditions – not to state the number of deaths resulting from the COVID-19 virus are real.
15,897,482 cases reported globally with 641,042 deaths and 85,461 cases reported regionally with 1,592 deaths.
The mere numbers have overwhelming medical facilities throughout the world.
It is reported that the Government of Dominican Republic will introduce a 45 days lockdown to commence shortly. Bahamas has announced a 2 weeks lockdown and the banned on American tourists as reported.
As the Minister responsible for Health and Social Development, I empathise with our people in Jost Van Dyke. Your government understand; we hear; we know and we feel your concerns. I can assure you that as a Government we are doing everything within our reach to provide a high level of protection of your health and we are working diligently to safeguard your welfare as a top priority. Without life there could be no livelihood. We ask that you continue to do your part as we say ‘no’ to COVID-19! Let us continue to look out for each other, and keep each other safe. We will get through this bump in the road together.
It is not a Jost Van Dyke issue, a Virgin Gorda issue, an Anegada issue or any of the islands. It is the entire Virgin Islands.
I wish at this time to thank every person on Jost Van Dyke and throughout the Territory who have cooperated so willingly with these measures being implemented for your safety and protection. Periods of lockdowns have not come without the inconvenience and personal sacrifices, and several teams have been working together to help to alleviate any personal hardships arising from the most recent interventions.
We are grateful for the leadership of the Health Emergency Operations Centre, and the hardworking teams at the Ministry of Health and Social Development, Department of Disaster Management, Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, Deputy Governor’s Office, the Jost Van Dyke Resilience Team, and other Public Officers who worked together to provide a range of support services, including adequate food and essential supplies to all residents of Jost Van Dyke adversely affected by the 24-hour curfew.
Your Government made swift and early decisions to fund the provisioning of all households on Jost Van Dyke without regards to income or status. On Wednesday, the 22nd of July, we were able to dispatch a total of 180 Care Packages that were distributed by a well coordinated team of experts.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are heartened and encouraged by the recent test results and would especially like to commend the health teams at the BVI Health Services Authority and the Public Health unit for their excellent work. Because of their diligence, the residents of Jost Van Dyke will have a greater assurance of the COVID-19 situation in their community. To all of you, I say thank you on behalf of the entire community.
As a result of donations from the United Kingdom Government, we now have the capacity to conduct over 6,000 additional tests in-house. We remain grateful for their generosity and support at this crucial time when international procurement of medical supplies is challenging. The Virgin Islands on a whole is a small and close-knit family set of islands.
We pray that the final results from the 19 tests collected today in Jost Van Dyke will all return negative results. Regardless of the outcome, we remain resolved to take timely and decisive actions that will safeguard the health and wellbeing of our people against the threat of this deadly disease.
In this same vein, the Government will shortly be enacting legislation to enforce compliance with various Public Health measures, such as handwashing and sanitisation, physical distancing and limits on the size of gatherings, and the wearing of face masks or coverings in public places. I implore you not to wait until you come under the penalty of the law to do the right thing to protect yourself and others.
By all of us working together, we can put up a strong fight against COVID-19 and continue to safely reopen our borders, reboot our economy, put more people back to work, put our children back in schools, and flourish as a Territory without taking undue risks with people’s lives. I thank you again for your cooperation and will continue to keep you informed as the situation unfolds. Let us all remain healthy and safe! God bless you and God Bless the Virgin Islands.