Commissioner of Police, Mr Michael B. Matthews says with regards to the extreme measures that the territory is taking to bring COVID-19 under control, he would rather be criticised for doing too much, than doing too little and have the virus go out of control.
On the Wednesday, April 1, 2020, edition of the Honestly Speaking show, it was noted by moderator Claude O. Skelton-Cline that many have now regarded the response of the RVIPF in light of the government-mandated extended curfew to be somewhat excessive and that of a 'police state', given the low number of confirmed imported COVID-19 infections.
Some jurisdictions acted too late - Mr Matthews
According to CoP Matthews, “In other jurisdictions, there are far more cases and what is clear, if you look across the world and even in different countries and different approaches… some jurisdictions acted too late and it’s gone out of control before they put measures in.”
He said that in the case of the Virgin Islands (VI), the Government along with the Governor, Mr Augustus J. U. Jaspert is working to ensure that the territory does not get in the position where they are ‘playing catch-up.’
Mr Matthews noted that it would be expected that people would say too much is happening, with regards to the measures the authorities make to restrict movement.
“I join the Government and the Governor by saying this, I would rather be criticized for overdoing it now, that underdoing it later on and finding out that things got out of control,” the Commissioner of Police said.
Health sector would be under pressure
As part of the reasoning, Mr Matthews noted that the territory's healthcare system simply cannot handle a huge influx of cases.
“The pressures that would be on our small health capability here would just be super enormous and if people get a severe dose of this virus, we have got to try and look after them within our medical facilities here,” he said.
CoP Matthews also noted that the lessons being learnt from around the world show that the quicker you act, the faster you will contain the spread of the virus, which results in more lives being saved.
He said when that happens in the Virgin Islands, the territory will coming out of the perceived draconian measures sooner.
“The other side if that is if we don’t really lock down properly now, if people breach the curfews or ignore the social distancing advice, if people spread this virus, we could find ourselves in lockdown for weeks and months,” he said.
The territory is going into a 14-day round-the-clock extended lockdown from this evening Saturday, April 4, 2020.