According to Acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Ronald Georges, the behaviour is inappropriate and can contribute to further spread.
Another concerning behavioural pattern the CMO noted is the practice of persons not following the testing schedule but rather testing at inappropriate times.
This is coupled with persons not adhering to public health orders; persons being abusive to the health staff; persons not adhering to the government’s general stay-at-home order; persons testing positive for COVID-19 but not disclosing it to their loved ones at home and not taking precautions, are other patterns the CMO said health officials have identified.
Dr Georges warned that the social distancing task force and the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force will be further engaged to ensure compliance with measures, and noted fines and tickets will be issued for offenders.
In a COVID-19 update briefing Sunday afternoon, the CMO said the BVI now has advanced community spread of the virus.
He said that between July 3 and 9 the BVI added 989 new positive cases, bringing the total to 1,147. He said another 149 additional positive cases were added from testing done on July 9, with a further 111 samples being left to report.
Dr Georges said he expected the momentum and increase of new cases to continue for a few more days.
“Geographical distribution and contact tracing are irrelevant at this point because we are in a situation of very high transmission and community spread throughout the territory. This means that all persons must simply take urgent and immediate steps to limit the exposure to stop the spread of the virus,” Dr Georges said.
He added that testing is now less important than strict adherence to public health measures and getting vaccinated.
Given that the BVI is experiencing high community transmission, all symptomatic persons should immediately assume that they are COVID positive and act as instructed the CMO advised.
In the meantime, the concerning behaviour patterns which were outlines have led to a revamped strategy by health officials, the CMO said.
According to Dr Georges, the current strategy for managing the outbreak has now shifted to limiting person-to-person contact; isolating all sick persons and household contacts; changing the testing strategy to dissuade mass testing; increasing vaccination coverage; managing ill persons and building resilience and capacity within the health system to manage the upsurge.
Further to this, all persons who are sick are advised to stay at home and immediately self-isolate, and should not seek to get tested. Dr Georges said this behaviour is counterproductive and said it may cause additional spread of disease.
They should not go to a physician or healthcare facility until advised to do so, but should instead use government’s online system checker.
Regarding business owners, Dr Georges said all employers and workplaces should ensure that persons who are positive and have received quarantine orders should be allowed sick leave to stay at home for a period of between 10 to 14 days or as so ordered by the public health department.
Unvaccinated workers in households with positive cases should quarantine with their cases, and also should not attend work, while vaccinated persons who may have, or have not been exposed can attend work unless they develop symptoms or test positive, Dr Georges related.
Regarding vaccinations, Dr Georges said there are currently no restrictions on first or second dose vaccinations and he encouraged all persons to get vaccinated.
“There are ample stocks of vaccine and more vaccine is on the way to augment the stocks that are expiring on the 31st of July. Please just bite the bullet and get vaccinated,” he advised.