A COVID-19 cluster is said to occur when there is a concentration of infections in the same area at the same time.
Health Minister Carvin Malone indicated there were clusters during a live public broadcast shortly before midnight on Monday, August 24.
He said: “Over this past weekend, five new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed through PCR testing at the Dr D Orlando Smith Hospital, bringing the total number of cases detected in the territory to 26.”
He said 17 of these cases remain active, eight have recovered and one died. A total of 2,195 persons have been tested in the territory’s local laboratory to date.
The minister said COVID patient Number 22 was detected while obtaining treatment at the emergency room of the hospital.
Since then, the territory’s contact tracing teams have been working to identify and quarantine primary and secondary contacts connected to this patient.
Some 46 contacts of recent cases have been tested during the past week.
“Out of these investigations, three primary contacts of Case #22 tested positive, along with one primary contact of Case #12, which together comprise the five new cases detected. Given these circumstances, the BVI is now classified as having ‘clusters of cases’ in accordance with the World Health Organization (WHO) transmission classification guidelines.”
In the meantime, Malone said the British Virgin Islands will be placed under a new curfew order, for 14 days.
That curfew will commence on Wednesday, August 26, from 5:01 pm to 4:59 am, he stated.
During the first seven days of the curfew period, the following categories of businesses will be allowed to operate, subject to review: supermarkets/minimarts (limited to two persons per vehicle), approved delivery services, pharmacies/drug stores, bakeries, banks (with limited internal operations, such as but not limited to the clearing of overnight deposits services).
Other businesses and services that will be permitted to operate are farmers and fisherfolk, fuel and LPG stations, private healthcare providers (subject to the approval of their client list by the Minister of Health), burials subject to approval by the Health Minister, essential workers as defined in Section 3 of the Labour Code, and exempted persons as listed in the current curfew order.
During this partial lockdown, visitations will be restricted to and from Her Majesty’s Prison except for emergencies. The same applies for the Adina Donovan Home for the Elderly, Virgin Gorda Elderly Home, Rainbow Children’s Home; Safe Haven Transition and other private residential facilities.
The Minister further said the territory remains in Phase III of its National Action Plan against the COVID-19 pandemic, which is dubbed the ‘Stamp it Out’ phase.
He said the aim is to “rapidly contain the spread and prevent transmission within the community, especially to vulnerable groups.”