Statement by Hon Andrew A. Fahie
Premier of the Virgin Islands And Minister for Finance
18 April, 2020
COVID-19 : Arrangements for Curfew Period
My dear Virgin Islanders, residents and visitors.
A pleasant good evening and God’s blessings to each of you under the sound of my voice, may the peace of the Lord be with each of you even in these trying times.
Earlier today, you would have heard from myself (Premier and Minister of Finance), as well as His Excellency the Governor, and Minister for Health and Social Development, with respect to the need for the adjustment of the curfew orders that are in effect in the Territory.
You would recall that these measures have become necessary in light of the discovery of a suspected COVID-19 case in the Territory on Thursday, 16 April, 2020 and the subsequent passing of the 52-year-old female patient at the Dr. D. Orlando Smith Hospital this morning, Saturday, 18 April, 2020.
Let me first reiterate my condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased, on behalf of the Government and people of the Virgin Islands.
I want to also remind them that they are all in our prayers.
The loss of a loved one is never easy, and death can be evermore painful when it comes unexpectedly.
May her soul rest in peace.
We would have also informed you that testing of known associates of the victim has taken place, and that aggressive contact tracing is continuing so that we could identify and locate other persons who may have been in contact or close proximity with her so that they too can be tested and monitored closely and accordingly. This is in an effort to ensure that we contain any possible elements of community spreading.
As I mentioned in the House of Assembly yesterday, everything that your Government is doing is being informed by scientific data, international research, international best practices, and protocols, in line with guidance being issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the US Centre for Disease Control, and other leading institutions.
For the most part, everyone in the BVI has been treating this pandemic seriously, and for this I congratulate you.
This is in the true spirit of BVILOVE.
Together, we have been listening, and we have been adhering to the precautions. Together, we have been mitigating local spread again. And so far, we have been doing pretty well in containing and mitigating against the local spread.
This is why, as I said earlier today, we have to maintain our ground in the fight against this virus. If we relax our hand, we run the risk of the virus gaining ground, and THIS MUST NOT HAPPEN.
We must not lose another person to this virus.
Coronavirus is not playing around with us, and we in the BVI will not play around with it.
I promised to provide you with additional details on how we will be proceeding in the next few days now that we have been forced to defer our plans for the phased lifting of the internal restrictions and the resumption of the business internally.
One of the areas I promised to provide information on is the arrangements that will be implemented to get food, medication, and essential supplies to residents, including those who are out of work.
As the Minister of Finance, I have instructed that we spare no efforts to ensure that for all those who are needy or in need of the food supply, that systems be put in place to get it to you.
No one under my watch as Premier and Minister of Finance in this Territory will go hungry during the extended curfew period.
I repeat, no one under my watch as Premier and Minister of Finance in this Territory will go hungry during the extended curfew period.
But please, allow the measures being put in place to be accessed by those who need it most.
It is in this vein that we convened our second Cabinet meeting of the day to finalise all the logistics involved in making sure that the necessary food supply gets to every family in the BVI that has a need.
Cabinet concluded its deliberations a just few minutes ago, and the following decisions were taken:
Cabinet agreed to instruct the Attorney General after advice from the National Security Council to extend the 24-hours Curfew for a period of 7 days from Sunday, 19th April 2020 until the Saturday, 25th April, 2020.
From 6:00 a.m. tomorrow Sunday, 19 April, 2020, until 25 April, 2020, a new curfew arrangement goes in place. For these seven days, the curfew will be in effect for 24 hours daily, everyone must remain at home.
This is important for containing any spread of the virus, and to allow the Health Officials the time they need to do thorough contact tracing.
I want to point out that we must keep our minds open to any possibility, and this applies also to our Sister Islands.
Please note that cabinet has agreed the 24hrs curfew with the following provisions:
- Gas stations as authorised by the Governor shall be opened for the sole purpose of serving essential workers;
- Supermarkets, Pharmacies, water delivery services would be opened only for serving deliveries;
- Approved home delivery service for essential food supply only from approved supermarkets;
- Home deliveries of LPG (cooking gas);
- Cabinet agreed that the delivery of provision will be prioritise for Seniors and vulnerable with provision following others across the Territory;
- Cabinet also agreed for further discussion with supermarkets suppliers on the ordering and delivery capacity;
- Cabinet agreed for all other businesses not specified above are to be closed for the duration of the extended Curfew period, again, everyone except the business types named above must stay at home; and
- And additionally Cabinet agreed due to the development related to COVID-19 to the measures just stated are necessary to protect and prioritise the health and safety of persons of this Territory
Please bear in mind that the approved delivery companies, supermarkets and mini markets will not be allowed to open to any member of the public, but solely to service deliveries to the public.
Fear not, panic not. We will reach you at your home.
The Government will be financing basic food packages, which are to be delivered to all persons, district-by-district, who are in need.
As I have said, the BVI has done much better in dealing with the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic than most other countries.
We have made these strides because of the hard work, dedication, and cooperation of all of us who are part of this mission – the Cabinet, the professionals in the Ministry of Health, HEOC, our protective services, the private sector, JIC and you the people.
You have heard it said that the scientific data indicated that, if precautionary measures were not taken by the BVI, over 3,700 persons would have been infected with COVID-19 in our beloved the British Virgin Islands at this present time. But by working together, we have to prevent this from happening.
Our collective mission is to prevent the loss of lives.
Your Government has been doing this in a scientific, systematic way, while using our tax dollars of over $12 million, and while praying to God for wisdom, as we navigate this unprecedented experience.
The logic behind this method is that we reduce and control the physical interaction between persons, so we slow down, reduce, and, hopefully eliminate, the likelihood of the virus moving from person to person.
We anticipated that this current 14-day, 24-hour curfew would have allowed for any case or cases that did not show up previously to be discovered.
We took this calculated risk by using measures such as quarantining, social distancing, and isolation, for which we are able to more easily spot the red flags and to apply the remedies.
We have a golden opportunity to contain this matter but we need a few days more to complete the contact tracing to try to avoid any means of contact community spread.
For any country in the world, it would be safe to state that trying to evade COVID-19 is like walking through a minefield because the virus cannot be seen.
We cannot tell by looking at someone whether they have it or not, whether they are a carrier or not, whether they have it but are just not showing symptoms.
Persons in the Virgin Islands who are experiencing a fever with cough or difficulty breathing are encouraged to contact the medical hotline at 852-7650.
I repeat that persons in the Virgin Islands who are experiencing a fever with cough or difficulty breathing are encouraged to contact the medical hotline at 852-7650.
So, we have to proceed with caution.
We have to take the preventative measures until we can say with some degree of confidence that there are no threats to the BVI public.
With God’s Hand guiding us and guiding the work of our medical professionals, WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS.
We must continue to remain in prayers, turning fear into Faith, uniting and cooperating, and being patient and dedicated to our mission.
We are in this together, and together we will get through this.
I thank you again and May God Bless our Virgin Islands as He continues to watch over His people.
I continue to thank all members of my Government at this time for their commitment to keeping us all safe.
I thank all the members of the HEOC, JIC, the hardworking team of health officials, all members of the House of Assembly, Cabinet and all those who continue to put the preventative measures in place and aggressively work to keep us all safe.
Despite the latest sad news, let us not lose Faith in this battle.
As I have said before, my Government will not spare any efforts to ensure all those who in need and those needy of the food supply that systems are in place, and we will get it to you.
I repeat, during this extended curfew period, no one under my watch as Premier and Minister of Finance in this Territory will go hungry.
For this to work effectively, it is important that we allow the measures put in place to be accessed by those who need it most.
We will try to keep you as comfortable as possible as we go through these uncomfortable times.
Tomorrow, we continue our repentance and praise, and I am appealing to our Kingdom ambassadors, pastors, prayer warriors, past and present members of the House of Assembly, and you the people of this Territory to call-in to ZKING, ZCCR and ZBVI to petition God for favour.
So again I am inviting everyone, past and present members of the House of Assembly, His Excellency the Governor and everyone, our Kingdom ambassadors, pastors, prayer warriors, please people of the Virgin Islands let us continue to do with our forefathers did which is keep the BVI up in prayers.
I still believe in the Word of God that He will never leave us or forsake us once we remain in Him, and He in us.
Tomorrow Cabinet will be meeting in the morning to further finalise other logistics pertaining to the delivery of basic food packages for all persons in need in each district, and this also hold true for all those who are in need of replenishing medication.
So please I ask everyone fear not and panic not we are in this together, we will get through this together.
Tonight I took the time even at this late hour to come and inform you of this important information because information is the key to preparedness.
And tomorrow we will return when Cabinet is finished to make some further announcements so that everyone in the Virgin Islands will be clear on how they will be able to access the food supply that will be coming to you along with any medication that persons may need. This shows that your Government will continue to work with everyone to build the BVI stronger than ever through COVID-19 with BVILove.
But for now I say, good evening and God Bless be upon each of you and upon these beautiful British Virgin Islands.