Statement
28 January 2020 - 5:26pm

STATEMENT BY MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HONOURABLE CARVIN MALONE
ON THE 2019 NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
JANUARY 28, 2020

I extend greeting to residents and visitors of the Virgin Islands;

The Ministry of Health and Social Development has been carefully monitoring the 2019-Novel-Coronavirus outbreak and are working closely with the Caribbean Public Health Agency, which is providing frequent updates in line with the World Health Organization (who).

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome better known as MERS-cov and severe acute respiratory syndrome better known as SARS-cov. Common signs of infection include fever and cough that may progress to severe pneumonia -- causing breathing difficulties. 

Generally, a Coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people and those with pre-existing chronic conditions like Diabetes, Cancer or Chronic Lung Disease. This new strain of Coronavirus has not been previously identified in humans and hence creates challenges of its own.

According to the World Health Organisation report dated January 26, the number of reported confirmed cases of the 2019-Novel-Coronaviruses has increased globally to a total of 2,798.

Thirty seven confirmed cases have been reported outside of China in eleven countries including Australia, United States and France. Eighty deaths have been reported to date. These numbers are being updated and reported by international and regional agencies on a daily basis. Currently there are no known cures or treatment for this new 2019-Novel-Coronavirus. Researchers around the world are working tirelessly to identify effective treatments.

In the interim, the national Chinese authorities are conducting and reporting on active case findings in all provinces. They have taken preventative measures such as shutting down public activities, transport and travel, including the Lunar New Year celebrations together with some tourist attractions. In an effort to reduce the chances of infection, authorities have also widened sweeping restrictions on travel across the country.

Travellers are advised to stay informed about the 2019-Novel-Coronavirus in any countries to which they are travelling. Travellers are also advised to practice general hand hygiene and respiratory control measures such as frequent hand washing with soap and water or with an alcohol based hand sanitizer and the simple protocol of coughing in one’s elbow to protect themselves and others from getting sick.  

The Government of the Virgin Islands remains committed to the protection of the health of all residents and visitors alike and is implementing public health measures which include but are not limited to: 

  • Activation of the 2014 Quarantine Authority together with other agencies to include consultation with the relevant authorities from;

The Ministry of Health and Social Development
The Department of Information
Virgin Islands Ports Authority
The BVI Airports Authority
Department of Agriculture
Her Majesty’s Customs
Department of Immigration
BVI Health Services Authority
Department of Disaster Management
Environmental Health Department
Her Majesty Prisons
Royal Virgin Islands Police Force and;
Fire and Rescue Services

  • Enhanced surveillance of acute respiratory infections
  • Increased public health education and awareness focusing on the 2019-Novel-Coronavirus.
  • Recommending that everyone take preventative measures such as handwashing, respiratory hygiene and environmental sanitation.
  • Encouraging the use of personal protective equipment by health workers
  • Conducting training programmes.
  • Implementing advanced processes for the effective management of ill passengers at all primary ports of entry – including – consideration for the identification and equipping of designated quarantine spaces.

In addition to the measures stated prior, communications and affiliations are being forged with air and sea ports authorities and with health officials from island nations through which our tourist are known to in-transit. This measure is being taken so as to determine if adequate protocols are being practiced in these island nations so as to avoid the occurrence of transmittal or delivery to our shores.

Further updates and information will be provided to the public on a regular basis through various media. Thank you.

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