Twenty-two medical personnel from Cuba are due to arrive in the territory today and will be quarantined for two weeks before they get to work assisting with the Covid-19 response, Premier Andrew Fahie said Tuesday in the House of Assembly.

Though he had hoped the doctors would arrive sooner, he said, the “timing was God’s.”

As Cuba continues to receive requests for assistance from other countries, Mr. Fahie noted that the VI is the second United Kingdom overseas territory to receive a medical team, alongside the Turks and Caicos Islands.

“This is indeed a historic moment … as it provides the opportunity for advanced medical training for the BVI Health Services team also,” Mr. Fahie said. “We have long been aware that Cuba is a centre for excellence in treating various diseases, and has been a partner to many countries in the region in the area of healthcare.”

He added that the territory has had a “long history” of sending people overseas for treatment for serious medical conditions.

“In the Covid-19 era, we must re-think the added risk to [VI] patients as they travel abroad for treatment to places where the spread of the disease is on the rise,” he said.

At least one nurse from the Dr. Orlando Smith hospital traveled to Cuba in 2014 during the Ebola outbreak and trained with medical personnel there, he added.

“Cuba has a long history of supporting countries in times of disaster and in dealing with infectious diseases,” the premier said. “Today, Cuba has deployed teams of medical doctors and nurses to several countries in the Caribbean, including Antigua, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Belize, Jamaica, and Suriname. They have also provided support to South Africa, Italy and many other countries across the world.”