Active Covid-19 cases continued to rise from subvariants of omicron in recent days, but Virgin Islands officials remained optimistic, saying that most of the new cases are mild and herd immunity is continuing to grow.
Governor John Rankin and newly appointed Health and Social Development Minister Marlon Penn announced on Friday that there were 155 active cases in the territory.
Mr. Penn said the current omicron variant and subvariants are more contagious but much milder than previous variants.
“This together with increased levels of immunity in the population through vaccination and natural immunity, and sensible application of public health measures, have led to a relaxation of public health measures across the globe and, conversely, the reopening of societies and economies,” the minister said. “On this backdrop, the responsibility has shifted from governments to individuals to ensure their own personal safety and make sensible decisions for themselves, their families and their connections.”
He added that vaccination “remains a wise personal choice,” especially for vulnerable individuals like the elderly and the immunocompromised.
Both officials said that the United Kingdom government is ready and willing to provide additional support in securing vaccines.
“Back in February, a further 2,510 doses of adult Pfizer vaccines were delivered to the territory and the first paediatric doses were delivered for children ages 5 [through] 11 years old,” Mr. Rankin said. “Just yesterday, a further 200 paediatric doses were delivered in response to the request of the chief medical officer.”
Mr. Penn explained further how the UK has provided much needed medical supplies to help build the territory’s capacity to respond to the pandemic.
“The UK government has and continues to give invaluable support in the area of vaccines, but also technical support in a number of areas related to public health and the provision of supplies and equipment to support the territory’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said. “This has included antiviral medications, ventilators, medical supplies, all of which have improved our readiness and supported our response in keeping the territory safe through this pandemic.”
Mr. Rankin added that children remain at low-risk from developing serious illness from Covid-19, but a small number may develop severe illness and the vaccines could “keep them safe from that risk.”
According to Mr. Penn, 19,299 people — 64 percent of the population — had received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine as of Friday. A total of 17,866 people — 59.6 percent of the population — have received a second dose of the vaccine.