COVID on an island – a sad update

My recent, optimistic blog post was about the measures put in place in BVI to try and halt coronavirus in BVI.  At that date (16 April), there had been only three confirmed cases of coronavirus on BVI. Following the discovery of those cases, the Territory imposed a strict curfew, with residents (except for essential workers) forbidden from leaving their homes for any reason. As I typed out my little blog post, it seemed to me like the stringent measures might have worked and I was feeling hopeful.

But even as I finished writing out my thoughts, we heard the news that a woman had just been hospitalised with suspected corona virus.

On 18 April, the government made the announcement that the woman had died.  It might seem odd to those of you accustomed (if one ever can be accustomed) to daily death tolls in the thousands, but on our small island, her death was a real shock. The thought of the lady being rushed into hospital and dying was, to state the obvious, upsetting and saddening.

It has now been confirmed that the woman had corona virus. A further case has now been confirmed, bringing the total to 5 cases.

The government has extended the curfew for another week (bringing the period to about 4 weeks). Supermarkets, shops and pharmacies all remain closed to the public, and people are not allowed to leave their homes even to exercise or get cash.

However, the restrictions have been slightly eased to deal with the fact that people were running out of food and drinking water.  The prohibition on food delivery has been lifted, so that approved services can make deliveries from food shops and pharmacies to homes. Delivery services did not generally exist before the crisis, and so are makeshift: you whatsapp a list to someone who goes and tries to pick up the items. We have basically given up on ever hearing about the order we placed on Friday last week.

The government has also started distributing food packages to those who need it.

What would have happened if we hadn’t gone into ‘lockdown’ a few weeks ago does not bear thinking about. Tim and I are fine, much luckier than most. But I don’t think anyone can help being upset about how the virus is affecting other people. And the fallout from it will be immense (again, to state the obvious).

In the meantime, it appears that the BVI has dished out its first custodial sentence for disobeying the curfew. Local newspapers have reported that a 22 year old has been sentenced to 60 days at her Majesty’s Prison having pleaded guilty to breaking curfew to go out and smoke weed with a friend.

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