Premier and Minister of Finance,
Honourable Andrew A. Fahie
9 July, 2021
Let’s Bring the COVID-19 Situation Back Under Control
Good day and GOD’s Blessings to all the people of the Virgin Islands and beyond.
Over the past few months I have been keeping my promise to update you on a bi-monthly basis on the work of your Government and other matters of interest to the national community.
I am here this evening to encourage us, in a time when we continue to grapple with the realities of COVID-19.
Tonight’s update comes as we begin a period of nightly curfews from 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. due to an upsurge in COVID-19 infections in the Territory, and as the Virgin Islands records its third confirmed death attributed to this disease.
This is a situation that we all worked hard over the preceding 15 months to avoid.
But unfortunately, despite all our efforts and all our sacrifices, we are now faced with community spread.
The Minister for Health and Social Development, the Honourable Carvin Malone, would have addressed you over the last few days, giving updates on this spike which began around 30th June, 2021.
And, your Government’s plan for bringing the situation back under control so that our people can be safe from COVID-19, so that we can curb further loss of life, and so that our economy can continue back on the path to stability and growth, providing jobs and income for you the citizens and residents of this Territory.
Earlier today, the Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ronald Georges, also issued a statement, advising of the situation where 821 active confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been officially recorded in the Territory along with the third confirmed death.
Testing of persons is continuing at various locations across the Territory and as the results are confirmed your Government will ensure that you are kept updated.
To all persons who have tested positive – especially those who are critical and in the high-risk category, we continue to pray for your safe recovery, and urge you to stay at home to prevent spreading the virus further.
To those who have lost loved ones, your Government, on behalf of all the people of the Virgin Islands, offers our heartfelt condolences.
We pray that the families who are left to mourn will find comfort in GOD during this difficult time.
In the Virgin Islands, it is our DNA to support each other. We are a close-knit society, and each loss is felt personally.
It is vitally important that as a community we do everything in our control to protect those we love.
I want to assure you that your Government has been working to put the necessary measures in place to bring the current spike in COVID-19 cases back under control.
Since an increase in cases was observed about a week ago, your Ministers, the professionals in the Health team, public officers in the various Ministries and Departments and other stakeholders, have been meeting, discussing, planning and implementing – sometimes behind the scenes – critical measures that are needed to contain the further spread of the virus and to ensure that medical resources are in place.
The evidence is clear that the measures implemented by your Government since the start of the pandemic were working.
They worked because everyone played their part by adhering to the quarantines and curfews, washing hands and sanitising, wearing masks and maintaining social distance.
Already during the pandemic, we have had glimpses of how fragile the situation is.
You will recall there were a couple of instances where persons who showed no visible sign of the virus but who were really asymptomatic attended events, and the virus was spread to persons at those events.
We were able to very quickly contain the spread through contact tracing, and we were able to keep persons safe and to keep the economy on the path to full reopening.
Now we have community spread, and we know that is because some persons have not been adhering to the protocols.
Can I tell you that there are persons who have tested positive and they are refusing to cooperate with the contact tracing team?
There are persons who know or suspect that they have been exposed who do not want to present themselves for testing because they do not want to have to self-isolate or quarantine?
I urge everyone to fully cooperate with the contact tracing team.
I urge everyone who needs to be tested to get tested.
If you do not do this you are putting other persons and their families at risk, and your families as well.
Persons who may have been exposed to COVID-19 need to know so that they do not pass it on to the children, the elderly and the vulnerable in their homes and communities.
COVID-19 is not playing around with us and we must not play around with COVID-19.
If you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, I am pleading with you to call the medical hotline at 852-7650, that is 852-7650.
We must be vigilant for symptoms and strict about staying at home to limit the spread of the infection.
Your Government and other authoritative voices have been warning that COVID-19 is fluid, and despite our past successes, neither the BVI nor any other country in the world is out of the woods.
We have kept seeing and hearing this as big and small countries experienced explosions of the virus in their population and as new variants and strains of the virus emerged.
COVID-19 is not playing with us and we must not play with COVID-19.
Your Government remains extremely concerned about the increasing rate of infections in the Virgin Islands, but we know that we can overcome this.
The BVI can succeed in this task if everyone does their part – starting with the basics of washing and sanitising hands, wearing masks, social distancing and also cooperating with the contact tracing and getting tested as necessary.
We continue to hear persons arguing about vaccines, even as the infections come closer to home and the deaths increase.
There are debates about persons rights.
May I reiterate that vaccination remains voluntary and it remains a personal decision.
We must respect each other’s choice and their rights.
However, whether you have taken the vaccine or not, you have a personal responsibility.
That responsibility is to be cautious and responsible in your interactions at home and in public.
Your responsibility is to follow the public health protocols.
And, if you are the owner or operator of a business, your responsibility is to ensure your employees and your customers are being cautious and responsible in following the protocols.
If you see an individual, a business, an employee or another customer not following the protocols, report it to the manager, and if necessary report it to the authorities.
COVID-19 has no smell; no taste.
It is invisible.
You cannot see it with your eyes. You cannot hear it coming. You cannot feel it with your fingers.
There are persons who have COVID-19 but they are asymptomatic – they show no symptoms, so you have to be careful.
Do not play with COVID-19.
I continue to urge persons who are able to take the vaccine to take it.
I can share with you my family’s personal experience over the last week.
My mother, who is in her 80’s, one of our Golden Citizens, had to be taken to the hospital where she tested positive for COVID-19.
The doctors were able to explain to our family that due to her being fully vaccinated, significantly contributed to saving her life.
Thank GOD she is now safely recuperating.
This encounter was indeed very scary and traumatising.
I would not wish anyone else to go through that experience.
That is why I am saying that yes it is possible for one to contract COVID-19 while being fully vaccinated.
But the reality is, the vaccine allows the body to fight the virus with a high level of success.
So, that is why I come to you with my personal experience strongly recommending that you get vaccinated.
Get your first dose, get your second dose.
Do it for yourself.
Do it for your family.
Do it for your children.
Do it for your elderly.
Do it your for your loved ones.
Do it for the present and future of these Virgin Islands.
Do it for your economy so that we can continue to work together balancing lives and livelihoods.
Simply put, there is no magic to how we get this current situation turnaround other than through prayers, adhering to all approved heath protocols.
I believe that many of us had the notion that when the borders reopened that the protocols were only for those coming in through the controlled process.
So we became complacent rather than vigilant, forgetting that COVID-19 never left as persons could have still been walking around asymptomatic.
We got too comfortable.
We have to change our behaviour one person at a time to get this situation under control. The power to change around this situation is in each of us.
That is why I ask you all again to be careful, act responsibly and with consideration for each other.
We are not out of the woods.
Your Government has done a lot over the past months to adjust to the New Regular of living and working with COVID-19.
For example, we have passed a number of pieces of legislation to support e-Government and making more Government services available online. So the proactive measures of your Government will ensure that Government services remain online and you will be hearing more about that.
We have boosted our health infrastructure, refurbished the old Peebles Hospital into a major COVID-19 centre, invested in our own testing lab at the Dr. D. Orlando Smith Hospital, we have implemented effective protocols, and we have made vaccines and testing available with the assistance of the UK.
Your Government and our agencies continue to be guided by our very competent and qualified medical professionals.
We have been working to develop and implement a four-to-seven-week plan of how we project to get the numbers down, stop the spread and increase vaccination. This plan was shared by the Minister of Health as he outlined the Cabinet Decision last evening.
This puts us in a stronger position to fight this. But this plan can only succeed with everyone’s cooperation.
The past 15 months have proven that the BVI can fight off COVID-19 when we work together.
In the last 15 months, we were able to keep persons safe, and to keep most businesses in the position to be able to reopen and to provide jobs.
We have been able to receive tourists since December 2020.
We have been able to revive economic activity.
And while the recent developments represent a serious and major setback to our aspirations, our commitment to taking this economy into overdrive has not changed.
I am confident that we will get there.
We will do it through hard work, sacrifice, unity, cooperation, and the support of Abba our Father.
We continue to recognise that we have gotten this far with the hands of GOD guiding us.
I am inviting you the people of the Virgin Islands to join together as we engage in a prayer fast for 21 days starting Sunday 5:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for 21 days- A prayer fast.
Choose your own time in the day and individually or collectively petition GOD to continue to keep us all safe and protected from the plans of the enemy.
We will win this battle.
I look forward to our people coming together, praying together, and believing in GOD together, as we once again watch GOD work.
You can look forward to your Government updating you regularly on how we are progressing with managing and containing the spread of COVID-19 in the Virgin Islands.
Let us remain vigilant and let us do what is right.
In BVILOVE I say, may GOD continue to bless and protect these Virgin Island and our people. And I just stopped by to say this too shall pass and we will be victorious as long as each of us play our part well.
I thank you, and please remember GOD IS WITH US.