Health and Social Development Minister Carvin Malone spoke during a han- dover ceremony at Dr. Orlando Smith Hospital on Tuesday morning. The test- ing tent set up outside the hospital now has a 2.5-tonne air conditioning unit courtesy of a private donation. (Photo: ZARRIN TASNIM AHMED)

When Michael Thomas was taking his release test at the Dr. Orlando Smith Hospital after testing positive for Covid-19 about a month ago, he noticed the extremely humid conditions in the testing tent.

“When I walked inside the area with the health care professionals all clad in their [personal protective equipment] and literally sweating, I turned to the nurse and I said, ‘Is this normal?’” Mr. Thomas explained last Tuesday morning. “She said, ‘This isn’t just normal. Today’s not a bad day. It’s not too hot in here.’”

He asked the nurse how she managed to do her job, and she replied, “Very carefully.”

The experience prompted him to donate a 25-tonne air-conditioning unit for the testing tent during a Tuesday morning ceremony.

After seeing the need for proper ventilation and cooling, he said, he spoke to his wife to come up with a solution. They explored different ideas for providing air conditioning to the tent, including portable units.

He then spoke to Ariel Smith from Tropical Air Conditioning, who suggested a 25-tonne packaged unit that could provide enough air to cool the entire tent, Mr. Thomas said, adding that the unit can be moved and used in other situations as well.

31 active cases

Also present at the ceremony was Health and Social Development Minister Carvin Malone, who stated that there were 31 active Covid-19 cases in the territory. In the previous 56 days, he added, there had been more than 2,200 positive cases, and the BVI Health Services Authority conducted more than 21,000 tests at the hospital.

“Starting July 1, there were 57,000 conducted at the time. Now that number is up to 78,000,” he said. “There were 392 positive cases that day.”

Government’s Covid-19 dashboard was updated last Monday, showing that 24 of the 31 active cases were on Tortola and seven were on Virgin Gorda. Meanwhile, four people with Covid- 19 were in the hospital.

Out of the 73,246 people who have been tested for the virus, about 3.5 percent — or 2,577 people — have tested positive, according to government statistics.

Since Aug. 17, 164 people have gotten fully vaccinated. Government is more than halfway to its vaccination goal of 22,500 residents, with a total of 12,733 fully vaccinated people in the territory and 4,362 partially vaccinated people.

Employees sought

Also last Monday, the BVIHSA announced that it was urgently seeking to hire 20 employees to help facilitate 45,000 rapid Covid-19 tests at seaports throughout the territory.

The employees, called “rapid testing agents,” would be responsible for collecting testing samples, according to the agency. They would perform both PCR and rapid antigen testing.

The BVIHSA seeks employees who are “mature, flexible, computer literate, able to troubleshoot and function on varying administrative levels.”

Applicants must be 18 years or older, be fully vaccinated, have a high school diploma, have basic knowledge of health care operations, be aware of current Covid-19 protocols, and function in a team environment.

Applications were open until the end of August, government said.

Health workers

After a case of the delta variant was confirmed in the territory last week, the BVIHSA also implemented a “Dual-Strata Covid-19 Protection Policy.” Under the policy, health care workers who aren’t vaccinated must test biweekly.

“Such frequent testing is essential as a risk management measure for members of staff and the patients that we care for,” a Friday press release stated.

The policy took effect last Friday and will be re-evaluated within two or three months, Mr. Malone said.

The cost of the biweekly testing will be covered by the BVIHSA.