COVID-19: UK Support Provided to the Overseas Territories

By Craig Brewin, craig.brewin@fotbot.org

On 23rd October the Government published a written response to a parliamentary question from Lord Risby. His question was “To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they have provided to British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies during the COVID-19 pandemic; and whether this support will extend to the provision of vaccinations when trials are concluded.”

The response from Baroness Sugg, Parliamentary Under Secretary at FCDO, was as follows:

“The UK Government has undertaken a major operation to support the Overseas Territories (OTs) in dealing with COVID-19. Support has been sent to all of the inhabited OTs with the exception of Pitcairn. UK support has enabled seven OTs to start testing for the virus and the others to continue testing when supply routes were cut. Supplies of PPE were sent to ensure no OT ran out. Medical equipment was sent to ensure hospitals could cope when each island was cut off from their usual medical evacuation routes by providing field hospital equipment, medicines, ventilators, CPAPS and other equipment. Expert support was provided in the form of advice from PHE, deployments of medical staff and a remote telemedicine service providing OT clinicians with remote access to clinical advice in the treatment of COVID-19 and other critical conditions. Military teams were deployed to the Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands to support with logistics and border security. Flights were arranged by the FCDO to repatriate British nationals to and from the OTs. Emergency budgetary support has been provided to Montserrat, St Helena and Anguilla to keep essential public services running and ensure these OTs can respond to the impacts of the pandemic.

The UK Government has worked closely with the governments of the Crown Dependencies throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. While the Crown Dependencies are responsible for their own emergency planning, response and recovery, the UK has engaged at working and political level with these jurisdictions to support their own efforts to combat COVID-19 and mitigate against its spread on the islands. This has included ensuring that the Crown Dependencies can access UK supply chains for key medicines and medical devices, including PPE and ventilators. The UK will maintain this engagement over the coming months to ensure that the UK can continue to offer support to Crown Dependency governments.

Through the Vaccine Task Force, the UK Government is procuring vaccines on behalf of the Crown Dependencies and OTs, and is working with them to ensure the smooth deployment of a COVID-19 vaccine once a safe and effective one is available.”