The British Virgin Islands is moving full steam ahead in its thrust to guard against the dreaded Coronavirus, Minister for Health Carvin Malone has said.
Malone gave that indication while delivering an update on his ministry’s plans during a community meeting in Sea Cows Bay on Thursday night.
Malone said: “We had a meeting of the Cabinet today (Thursday) and coming out of the meeting we had a number of suggestions, and we would incorporate it into the strategy that we have moving forward.”
He continued: “In the hospital, we have four quarantine areas. The health care administration folks are already on guard because the protocol for this has been experienced during the Sars (Sars coronavirus) attack and the other viruses and epidemics that we have. But the hospital is ready in terms of doing this. We have a 14-day quarantine period, and if we need to expand this area, there are provisions that we have already looked at where we can get additional rooms.”
Other measures and special equipment
The Health Minister said other measures were being implemented such as enhanced surveillance of acute respiratory infections, increased public health education and awareness, as well as encouraging residents to take preventative measures such as proper handwashing techniques and use of protective gears by health workers.
“We will be conducting training programmes, implementing advanced processes for the effective management of ill passengers at all ports of entry. We have a number of equipment that can point straight in your forehead and take your temperatures and so we are going to have that implemented. So we going to purchase a number of these so that whether it is at the airports, the seaports, we would be able to deploy persons who can use this equipment so that we can test persons for high fevers. After that, we can then monitor where you’ve travelled in the past days,” Malone explained.
Local quarantine area
He said if someone is travelling from a high-risk country and is showing signs of high fever and other symptoms of the virus, additional tests can be administered on that individual, and they can be quarantined.
“We are going to make sure that whatever is required to have the populace safe and sound, that it is done,” the minister pledged.
Ministry meeting with islands’ air and seaport authorities
Malone said his ministry also plans to meet the authorities from various air and seaports from various islands to urge them to redouble their efforts at the screening.
He explained: “Our passengers, they come in through St Thomas and they come over here, they fly to Puerto Rico, St Maarten, St Kitts, from international ports to come here. So, at the end of the day, if they are doing the screening when we do additional screening, we know that we have done all that we could to identify the various cases and make sure that this is done in a way that will be pleasing to the populace. It would be prudent to make sure that we catch it early and have it done.”
The Health Minister further said the BVI is in daily contact with all the international health organisations and is keeping themselves informed about the virus.
According to international media reports, the Coronavirus has now claimed 213 lives globally with confirmed cases rising above 9,500; including the first two in Britain.
The World Health Organisation has declared the virus outbreak a global health emergency.