As we continue to manage the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic it is important that we keep you updated on what we are doing as Government to put in place a coordinated strategy to stem the spread of this disease. Our response requires the participation of all citizens to achieve success. If there is ever time that the biblical question; “Am I my brother’s keeper?” seems appropriate — it is now.
To be your brother’s keeper, in this case, means ensuring that you conduct yourself in such a manner so as not to contribute to the spread of the virus if it were to be present among the Anguilla population. I repeat here that to date there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Anguilla.
As I said in my stakeholder conference on last Tuesday — it only takes one infected person to spread the virus throughout Anguilla through irresponsible behavior. In fact, those of you who would have been keeping up with the international news on the spread of this pandemic would have heard about just one person transmitting the virus to hundreds of other persons in one Asian country.
It therefore means that if anyone including yourself is positive and does not observe the established guidelines for social distancing; self-quarantine; and self-isolation —- the disease can spread to a considerable proportion of the Anguilla community.
I have said all this to put into context and to bring awareness to my concern that it appears that many of our citizens are not taking the recommended guidelines seriously. In some instances, individuals seem to be making a mockery of the procedures put in place to protect the public’s health. These actions are contrary to the public interest and represent a clear and present danger to the community.
In light of this it may require the Government of Anguilla to take stricter measures in order to curtail the movements of persons that may be putting the lives of others in danger. Nothing is more important than the health; safety; and security of our people at this at this time.
Social distancing; self-quarantine; and self-isolation refer to a set of actions intended to stop or slow down the spread of a contagious disease. The main objective of these measures is to reduce the probability of contact between persons who may be carrying an infection and others who are not infected. These practices curtail the spread of disease, sickness and the likelihood of death.
The joint statement of March 17th 2020 made by H.E Governor and myself included a number of social distancing measures to encourage the community to adopt new behaviours as part of Anguilla’s COVID-19 response. There have been increasing reports that members of the general public are failing to comply with the recommendations particularly those addressing self-quarantine; self-isolation and the limiting of mass gatherings. Generally speaking, there has been a fair level of compliance but some bad actors among us are not respecting these protocols and putting the country at risk.
As Premier I hereby make a further appeal to the sense of moral responsibility and civic duty of all citizens in order to protect Anguilla. The general public is hereby admonished that if persons are not compliant with these measures, the Government will be forced to pursue more stringent measures.
Furthermore, based on the seriousness of the COVID-19 threat, such measures will have to be enforced with urgent effect up to and including an island wide curfew. We believe that such an escalation of preventative measures may be required — if in the Government’s estimation, segments of the population continue to ignore and make mockery of the guidelines and protocols we consider necessary to stem this pandemic. This is not the time to be tentative in our response.
Let me reiterate that to date, Anguilla has no confirmed cases of COVID-19. We must continue every effort to prevent this virus from establishing a foothold in our community. In addition to the foregoing, I firmly admonish members of the public once again to practice hygienic measures to protect against COVID-19:
• Frequent Handwashing; if water is unavailable utilize an alcohol-based hand rub also called a hand sanitizer.
• Covering coughs or sneezes with a disposable tissue or in the crook of a flexed elbow.
• Avoiding contact with persons who are ill with symptoms of acute respiratory infections such as fever or cough.
• Regular cleaning of surfaces and objects that are frequently touched or handled.
We are all in this together. We are our brother’s keeper. Let us live up to that charge with a sincere sense of responsibility and regard for the health, safety and security of our island and its people.
The Ministry of Health has established a hotline for the general public wishing for information on COVID-19 and for persons who feel they have been exposed to COVID-19. The number is 1-264-476-7627 or 476 SOAP; 584 HAND; 584 4263.
The Ministry will continue to provide timely updates through our media partners, our official Facebook page and the government website at www.gov.ai and the newly established Ministry of Health website: www.beatcovid19.ai.