Minister for Health and Social Development, Honourable Carvin Malone has called on the Virgin Islands commuity to remain steadfast and vigilant following confirmation of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus in the Territory.
Honourable Malone in a statement during a sitting of the House of Assembly on August 16 said, “As a Territory, we are still mourning the loss of loved ones and picking up the pieces from the first wave of COVID-19. We cannot afford for a second wave and especially a Delta wave. A Delta wave could wreak havoc on our community and it is for this reason that we cannot let our guard down.”
Honourable Malone reported that the good news was that according to the samples that were taken, there was one case of Delta that was contact traced, isolated and mitigated in the Territory. The bad news he added, was that the positive case did not have a travel history, therefore, it can be assumed that the Delta variant may still be and is likely to be lurking within the Territory.
The Minister for Health further urged the community to continue to wear their masks. “Continue to wash and sanitise your hands frequently,” he said, adding, “Continue to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Continue to limit gathering sizes. Continue to maintain physical distance and get vaccinated because it really is your best defense against this disease that has claimed the lives of millions worldwide since the start of this pandemic.”
Minister Malone re-iterated that the Territory is not out of the woods. “Do not be regretful, do not wait until you are adversely affected by COVID to say that you should have gotten vaccinated. Continue to follow protocols and get vaccinated,” he advised.
In the region, Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Dr. Carissa F. Etienne is also making a plea for Caribbean people to get vaccinated and observe protective measures. During a COVID-19 Situation Update-137, Dr. Etienne expressed concern about COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Caribbean countries.
Dr. Etienne said, “Please take your vaccines and please wear your masks properly, social distance. I know the Caribbean people like to be close, and we like fetes, and we like to congregate, but please avoid congregation. Observe respiratory etiquette and wash your hands frequently,” she said.
Dr. Etienne also cautioned that small islands in the Caribbean have limited bed capacity in intensive care units, along with limited numbers of specialised doctors. She said outbreaks in small countries will quickly put a strain on medical resources and overwhelm health systems.
Please stay healthy and safe! We will get through this together.