Under World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, the Ministry of Health & Social Development has classified the British Virgin Islands as having sporadic cases of COVID-19 transmission.
The WHO defines sporadic cases of transmission as a country that has one or more cases, imported or locally detected.
The classification is the second of four other classes of the virus listed by WHO, with the others being no cases (first), clusters of cases (third) and community transmission (fourth).
Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health Dr Irad Potter told BVI News in a recent interview that the classification is used to make other countries aware of the level of exposure of a virus or disease in a specific country.
“One of the things that happen is that you are obligated by the World Health Organisation and the international health regulations to alert people whenever you have a disease of international concern,” he said.
“So whenever that happens, we tend to publish a classification for countries to follow, so that it’s easier for people to have an understanding based on the classification what is happening.”
BVI doing a good job with preventative measures
Dr Potter said the BVI has done a commendable job in following WHO’s guidance of instituting COVID-19 preventative measures and conducting regular testing, which has resulted in a low seven confirmed cases in the territory.
“We’ve had very good cooperation from the public generally and the government has been very firm and supporting in terms of having the measures of closing the border, having the curfew to help to break the transmission,” he stated.
Thorough testing protocol
In terms of contact tracing and testing, the Chief Medical Officer said the protocols followed by the BVI Health Services Authority are strict and thorough to ensure possible cases don’t go undetected and slip into the general population.
Dr Potter said only quarantining for 14 days does not mean that a person may not have the virus within them at the end of that period, and therefore highlighted the significance of testing.
He said: “We test people as soon as we learn that they are a contact (having been in contact with a known case). But if persons don’t have a sufficient live viral load to be positive on the test then they may test negative. That is why we continue to monitor them and if we have any reason to be suspicious based on monitoring, then we retest.”
“If for any time when we start retesting them and they test positive, then we treat them as if they are positive and we repeat the testing weekly every seven days until they have their first negative test … If they test negative, then we retest them again the following day and if they test negative the next time then, we consider them to be recovered,” Dr Potter further explained
To date, the BVI has tested a total of 132 samples, with 125 returning negative. Of the remaining seven positives, three have recovered, three are currently active and one has died.
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