Samples returned from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) have revealed no variants of concern, and more importantly, no traces of the much-feared Delta variant of COVID-19 in the BVI.
This news, which the Acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Ronald Georges delivered recently, offers some degree of relief to residents but left lingering questions about the root causes of the rapid spread of the virus across the territory in recent weeks.
In his update to residents, Dr Georges sought to offer some answers to the question of how the BVI got to an “explosion of cases” that left it reeling from more than 1,600 new positive COVID cases and 25 related deaths in less than a month.
He explained that there was a spate of mass gatherings that included graduations and parties where persons were not observing health protocols; including mask-wearing and social distancing.
We have to blame ourselves
Dr Georges emphasised that there was a need for personal responsibility and strict adherence to public health measures for the BVI to emerge from its current situation.
“During that time, we were able to have sufficient contacts with persons to cause this explosion in cases in the BVI, without a new variant. So, we can’t blame a new variant – we have to blame ourselves,” Dr Georges said.
The CMO said a lockdown has not been implemented because persons are expected to be responsible to police themselves and do what is needed.
He recalled that even though there was a lockdown last year, thousands of persons continued to move around the territory in various capacities. This time around, he said persons should simply follow the stay-at-home order in place and not leave their homes unless absolutely necessary.
The CMO also shared that rapid testing for the virus was being introduced at the ports for vaccinated travellers.
The BVI is receiving technical assistance from the US Virgin Islands so that they can share how rapid testing was rolled out in that neighbouring territory.
Dr Georges said officials are also exploring an expansion of the BVI’s testing regime. This will see essential workers, contacts of positive patients, and other categories of persons getting tested.
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