Following an increase in reported cases the novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in parts of the region, government has announced plans to activate the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) in the British Virgin Islands.
Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Carvin Malone said in a recent statement that his ministry will be working alongside the National Disaster Management Council to ensure a multi-sectoral, coordinated approach to the virus. This, he said, is in keeping with the territory’s National Pandemic Influenza Plan.
“The National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) will be activated at level one to ensure community-wide coordination and to provide guidance and support in developing and activating contingency plans,” Malone said.
“The National Emergency Operations Centre represents the highest level of command and control that is activated in a national emergency situation. As COVID-19 is a public health emergency, the Ministry of Health and Social Development is the lead agency for planning, initiation, direction and central coordination at level one activation of the NEOC,” Malone explained.
$3M-plus pumped into the fight against COVID-19
The Health Minister said his government has taken an extra step to provide significant funding, which is geared towards further strengthening the territory’s defence against the coronavirus.
“The Minister of Finance (Premier Andrew Fahie) has also agreed to issue a special warrant to secure initial funding of over $3 million to assist with preparedness and response efforts to include overall coordination, surveillance and risk assessment, rapid response, laboratory detection, ports of entry surveillance, public awareness and community engagement, case management, and infection control activities,” the Health Minister stated.
He added: “This will also cover capital works such as the retrofitting of Immigration booths, establishment of quarantine stations at ports-of-entry and the refurbishment of a section of the Major Peebles Wing of the Dr D Orlando Smith Hospital for the isolation and care of patients affected by the disease.”
Additional funding to be made available if needed
Minister Malone further said that more monies will be made accessible once required, as the VIP administration will be doing all that is necessary to protect the BVI.
“As the need arises, government will make additional funding available to ensure a vigorous COVID-19 response to protect the health and well-being of the territory’s residents and safeguard its economic interests,” he said.
Practice basic hygiene
In the meantime, the Health Minister has continued to urge residents to use basic hygiene practices to protect themselves from contracting the virus.
He also asked persons who have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing to seek medical attention early, and share their previous travel history with their physician.
There has been a recent increase of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the region, with the islands of St Barthélemy (St Barts), Saint Martin and the Dominican Republic being impacted.
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