Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Ronald Georges has said the territory’s mandatory four-day quarantine period for arriving passengers might have to be revisited since a growing number of flaws were detected with this safety protocol, as seen in the most recent positive COVID-19 cases.
Health Minister Carvin Malone had revealed last Friday, January 8, that two positive cases were being investigated after two visitors who had previously tested negative on day zero and day four, tested positive during their exit screening to leave the territory.
While ruling out the likelihood the two cases were contracted locally, Dr Georges said the four-day quarantine period was always going to pose a risk but argued that the risk level has now begun to increase.
“Clearly the four-day quarantine has proven insufficient and has allowed a proportion of cases to evade detection and containment. This was a calculated risk between facilitating the economy and protection of the public from infection,” he told BVI News.
“At this point, the four-day quarantine will need to be revisited to determine how the guest experience can continue and be enhanced within a longer quarantine. However, on the other side of things, there must be strict adherence to measures and protocols already established,” Dr Georges added.
From four days to perhaps seven or longer
And while stating that the decision is ultimately up to the government, the Acting CMO said quarantine periods of seven days or more will be more effective than the present mandatory four-day period.
“Moving forward, we will be closely looking at how the time period may shift and how we can work with our stakeholders to ensure economic activity continues. This may involve tightening and extending the four-day bubble to perhaps seven days or longer depending on the country of disembarkation. However, these ideas are all for further discussion with stakeholders and subject to final approval by the government,” he stated.
The incubation period before the virus becomes detectable varies between zero and 14 days, and in unique cases, as long as 21 days.
Hence the need to adhere to COVID measures
Dr Georges also highlighted the importance of following all of the COVID-19 measures which can help to safeguard a person and their family from contracting the virus in cases where it finds its way into the general population.
“This is why continued adherence to protocols is of such importance and why the lapses over the holiday weekends are so vexatious. In the event a few cases do slip through the quarantine net [and] if there is widespread adoption and adherence to protocols, they will not lead to any significant infections outside of their close contacts,” he explained.
The BVI presently have 19 active COVID-19 cases, with 12 on Virgin Gorda, six on Tortola and one on a vessel which is out at sea.