The government of the Virgin Islands spent over $17M in COVID-19 prevention this year.
“Total Revised Recurrent Expenditure for fiscal year 2021 totalled $341.7 million; $11.3 million above the initial estimates. This included $17.88 million in Coronavirus Prevention Expense, which together with other expenditure, was essential in keeping our people safe while protecting the economy during the on-going pandemic,” Premier and Finance Minister Hon. Andrew Fahie recently disclosed.
He said managing and remaining vigilant in the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic included, Redesigning and commissioning a COVID-19 isolation ward in the Dr. D. Orlando Smith Hospital; Developing and commissioning the COVID-19 permanent and mobile swabbing facilities at the Dr. D. Orlando Smith Hospital, at the T. B. Lettsome International Airport and at the main seaports in Jost Van Dyke, Virgin Gorda, West End and Road Town; and Expanding the facilities and ensuring the certification of laboratory services for on-site COVID-19 testing with further expansion to include rapid testing capabilities.
Also, preparing for and setting up a field hospital for the management of the June -August 2021 COVID-19 surge; Implementation of PCR Testing for all persons entering the Virgin Islands; Active testing of several positive COVID-19 up surges; and Implementation and management of the COVID 19 Vaccine program, which is on-going/
“As a matter of fact, our lab is so certified, so efficient, that despite the challenges, we have been able to assist our Caribbean brothers and sisters with making sure that we help run their tests and also give results so that they also could have stayed on the cutting edge of their economy and help their visitors. That is progress,” Premier Fahie said.
He said he wants the people of the Virgin Islands to understand that COVID-19 is still here.
“We have done so well with mitigating it thus far with GOD’s help that sometimes we are taking the blessings that GOD has given us for granted. Continue to practice all the measures for COVID-19. The wearing of your masks.”
“It is better to wear a mask than to be referred to in the past. It is better to be six feet apart than six feet under. It is better to make sure that you wash your hands all the time. Those are the little things. And we strongly recommend to be vaccinated,” the Premier said.
The Territory’s leader spoke to plans the government will work on to further mitigate the effects of COVID-19.
“So, we have seen where COVID-19 is a threat. For instance, one area of emphasis in 2022 will be preparation for the implementation of COVID-19 vaccine boosters and vaccination of school-aged children – with parental consent, of course – using the Pfizer vaccine,” he said.
The work plan for 2022 includes completion of three construction projects in the Major Peebles Wing: the Road Town Clinic 1st Floor; the dual-purpose unit Specialist Clinics and Isolation Unit 2nd Floor; and the expanded Laboratory Unit Annex – Laboratory ISO 15189 certification.
Premier Fahie mentioned that, through all the challenges, BVI Health Services Authority maintained its prestigious Det Norske Veritas (DNV) accreditation and is preparing for its third on-site survey visit from the accreditation body.