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Zika, others still a serious threat in BVI

Minister of Health and Social Development Ronnie Skelton

While noting that no amount of fogging can address the threat again being posed by mosquitoes, health minister Ronnie Skelton today urged landlords and tenants to clean up their premises, adding that the Dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika viruses are likely to be further transmitted locally.

Several cases of those mosquito-borne viruses were confirmed in the British Virgin Islands recently.

There is now fear that a tropical wave, which caused widespread flooding throughout the territory this month, has created the conditions for a possible uptick in transmission of the viruses.

Skelton, in a statement today, said: “Along with the damage to property and infrastructure, the rain has brought us an additional challenge that is perhaps not immediately as costly as property and infrastructure repairs, but extremely dangerous nonetheless.”

“During a period of heavy rain, such as what we have experienced recently, there is a significant increase in mosquito breeding. Although most of what we are seeing right now is the emergence of ‘pest mosquitoes,’ we cannot forget that the vector that transmits Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika could be among the current mosquito population,” Skelton said.

He also urged residents to be mindful of other factors that may cause mosquito infestation. “Other contributing factors that could lead to mosquito infestation include open unattended water catchments, abandoned boats and vehicles, uncovered water containers, and unprotected cisterns throughout the territory. These are perfect hiding places and breeding sites for mosquitoes.”

Skelton continued: “We, the people of this territory, by our actions, are contributing to the cause of this problem. It is our individual and collective responsibility to do our part to reduce mosquito breeding.”

Fogging

The health minister, in the meantime, stated that the government has started a fogging campaign as well as open water treatment efforts.

“No amount of fogging will arrest this challenge as long as we continue to provide safe havens for mosquitoes to hide and thrive. I am therefore encouraging the entire Virgin Islands community to mount a clean-up effort of your own property and surroundings – whether you are an owner or renter – to reduce mosquito hiding places and breeding sites.”

“The Ministry of Health and Social Development has already commenced its fogging campaign and open water treatment efforts. You, the members of the community, must do your part. The Environmental Health Division and Department of Waste Management have been mobilised to assist with recovery efforts, which include vector control and the removal of bulky waste. For the safety and protection of all of us, we are asking for each and every resident and visitor to do their part as we continue our efforts to return the community to state of normalcy,” Skelton further said.

He is grateful that the August 7 tropical wave did not cause further damage or loss of life. “I would first like to take this opportunity to thank Jehovah for his mercies during the recent heavy rains, which caused severe flooding that resulted in the damage of property and infrastructure in our territory. It could have been much worse, and we are thankful that here was no loss of life,” Skelton said.

He also thanked the various organizations for what he said is their ‘stellar performances and contributions’ that have helped to advance the territory’s efforts on the road to recovery in ‘record time’.

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