British Virgin Islands

Monday, Jul 13, 2020

Premier pushing for rapid testing before travel industry reopens

The Premier of the Virgin Islands, Hon. Andrew A, Fahie is now appealing to leaders within the region and the World Health organization to implement “rapid testing” at airports as we examine how to reopen the global travel industry.

The announcement was made just a few minutes ago in the House of Assembly. The leader of the territory said “I was speaking to them for us to make a very heavy push to make sure we can get more rapid tests approved by WHO and PAHO, so that when you go to get to a flight wherever you’re going. I told them that this has to be in place and if you test positive, from where you are leaving, then you can’t get on the flight.”

“If you belong to the country where you’re coming, then that’s something else, but if you test positive, then you can’t get on the flight. We have to learn to live with COVID-19 but that doesn’t mean we play dead and just throw our hands up in the air. Let’s do the things that will keep us safe,” he said.

The Premier reiterated that before the territory reopens in August or September for tourism, measures must be put in place. “we need to protect ourselves but that takes a lot of negotiation from country to country, airlines, and a lot of negotiation behind the scenes, to put things in place to protect all islands.”

Now while a promising idea, persons within the BVI have proposed a similar condition for BVI Nationals and residents returning from COVID-prone regions.

Just last week the government announced that self-quarantining is no longer an option as many persons were reportedly not adhering to the mandatory guidelines. By this time the Government had already financed the accommodation of 250 persons, but added that they are willing to do 100 additional rooms. They also revealed non-nationals will now be required to foot their own accommodation bill.

In light of the increasing cost on Government’s COVID-19 budget, many residents have questioned the possibility of returnees being tested before returning to the shores of the BVI.

One resident said “this will reduce the cost inherited by Government on an already limited budget, and relax what some are calling a very stringent 14-day quarantine, for persons who may be covid-free. “

Streamlined testing system at airports is already up and running in some countries, with results obtained within 90 minutes.

The goal is to eliminate overnight stays at hotels for tourists and those being repatriated while they wait for their results. Instead, special areas at the airport have been designated where travelers can wait for about two hours for their results.

Experts think this is a great way to further determine the rate of infection and prevent the spread of the virus in low-risk regions.

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