British Virgin Islands

Friday, Jan 28, 2022

BVI’s youth population driving COVID-19 upsurge - health officials

BVI’s youth population driving COVID-19 upsurge - health officials

Health officials have pointed out that the majority of positive cases seen in the current COVID-19 upsurge are in the younger demographic of the society.

Over the course of one week from June 28 – July 7, the BVI’s active COVID-19 positive cases moved from 11 persons to 821.

Two of those cases are reportedly in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Dr D Orlando Smith Hospital and an additional 10 cases are being treated in the NHI’s special care COVID unit.

National Epidemiologist, Harmony Massiah said while health risks or severe symptoms presenting among the youth are generally slim to none, there has been a shift in how sickness is presented in the youth.

“What we’re seeing is persons are very ill, even amongst the younger population, and that for one is very concerning to me,” Massiah said last evening in a joint press briefing with health officials.

Another troubling note Massiah said officials found is that most persons who are found to be ill, have been unwilling to seek medical treatment.

This has been particularly concerning since many of the ill persons have been reaching out through various forums and officials have been trying to get them to seek medical care, but with little success.

Massiah said many ill persons are putting their lives at risk in refusing medical treatment.

The National Epidemiologist urged persons experiencing symptoms such as coughing up blood, persistent tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing, weakness in the limbs, lack of appetite, and dehydration to seek immediate medical attention.

Herd immunity likelihood low

Speaking to the issue of herd immunity concerning the outbreak, Massiah said the human body doesn’t really adapt, but the COVID virus and its variants do.

She also cautioned persons that antibodies generated from exposure to the virus will wane over time and noted that some persons may not even produce antibodies after contracting the virus.

This makes those persons even more susceptible over time.

Massiah explained that while some persons may move in different social circles, some circles may offer a greater level of immunity than others. She said this meant that health officials expect to see more outbreaks in certain pockets or levels of individuals because of lower levels of immunity.

The low vaccination rates achieved in the BVI so far suggest that the territory is unlikely to achieve herd immunity with current trends.

She said modelling done by her team has shown that if current trends are not abated, the BVI can see as much as 5,500 positive COVID-19 cases in the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Ronald Georges said the community spread currently being experienced by the BVI is presenting a high risk for transmission.

According to the CMO, the new 7 pm to 5 am daily curfew would present an opportunity to limit movement and reduce the opportunity for contact and spread of the virus.


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