37 persons have lost their lives to COVID-19 in the VI, 36 of which were in 2021 during a record surge of active cases in June-July.
Hon Malone, at yesterday's August 12, 2021, Eleventh Sitting of the Third Session of the Fourth House of Assembly, said in one instance a mother was burying three of her children as a result of the pandemic.
“I witnessed and I have been in attendance, whether by virtual or presence, to the funerals of some of our dearly departed. A mother putting to rest three of children, our friends, our brothers, our sisters,” he said.
Hon Malone said the reality of the deaths surrounding the pandemic was parents were burying children or children burying parents, brothers, and sisters and other relatives.
“Mr Speaker, despite the fact that our positive cases have drastically been reduced, this is no time for relaxation. We have to keep pressing forward and ensure a steady decline in our active cases now and beyond because we cannot afford another surge,” Hon Malone said.
While active infections have significantly dropped to less than 50 after reaching 1600 plus cases in July, Hon Malone said the territory cannot afford to lose anyone else to the dreaded disease and they cannot afford the impact on lives and livelihoods.
“I remain optimistic, but I am reminded and must remind everyone that we are not out of the woods, far from it. Vigilance only is the keyword. Our key messaging strategy remains unchanged, we are living in a new norm it is no longer business as usual,” Hon Malone reminded.
The Health Minister said regionally and internationally, COVID-19 is reaping havoc in communities and the territory must take steps to protect against the virus.
“We need to continue to police ourselves, we have to stop and curtail the undesirable behaviours that make us vulnerable to this virus. The onus is on each and every one of us to take a personal and civic responsibility to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities,” he said.
Hon Malone called on persons to be their ‘brother’s keeper,’ and to vaccinate and follow the public health measures.
“If we see each other slipping we need to give gentle reminders and words of encouragement because we have all seen what this virus can do,” he said.