Premier Andrew Fahie has suggested that when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the BVI earlier this year, certain political factions tried to take power from elected representatives and give it to the governor.
The current law dictates that in the event of a disaster emergency, the governor is responsible for the disaster management of the territory. This happened immediately after hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 when the governor took charge of the territory.
Similarly, Premier Fahie said his government was told to give the handling of the pandemic to the National Emergency Operating Centre (NEOC) which is the agency responsible for emergency response in the BVI and is typically headed by the Governor.
But he said his government put together its own team called the Health Emergency Operating Centre and told critics that “COVID-19 is a pandemic, not a disaster”.
“The National Emergency Operating Centre team comes into place when there are hurricanes. We were told by some that it has to be the entity to be used during COVID-19 and we said no, COVID-19 isn’t a disaster, it’s a pandemic,” Premier Fahie explained.
The Premier said his government justified its control of the pandemic using laws such as the Public Health Act (1977), which states that the Health Minister should be in charge during a pandemic.
“Had that legislation, the Public Health Act, not been put in place during COVID-19, we as a people would have not been in charge of our destiny during this pandemic because there were movements on foot to make sure that it was not so. And this government had to use those legislation along with the Quarantine Act and also the Infectious Disease Act to be able to show that the law says that the Minister of Health is in charge of pandemics,” Premier Fahie stated.
“Had we listened to those who were giving us the rhetoric that we can’t get it done on our own and that we need to go through the entity that was already proven, we would not be the captains of our fate going through COVID-19,” Premier Fahie stated.
Some sections have the public have strongly disagreed with the protracted territory-wide lockdowns, curfews and protocols the government put in place to suppress COVID-19 that infected more than 70 persons locally.
However, the government maintains that all actions are meant to save lives and stop the virus from spreading in the community. The BVI has now gone more than 40 days without a confirmed COVID-19 case and has one of the most impressive COVID-19 records in the Caribbean and the world.
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