HOW ARE DIFFERENT OVERSEAS TERRITORIES RESPONDING TO THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK?
As the UK prepares itself for the full force of the COVID-19 outbreak and with the crisis entering a crucial stage, countries and jurisdictions are facing up to decisions which could literally spell life or death. As Europe and Latin America start restricting movements on people and borders and with millions hunkering down to the many days and weeks in isolation, the locus of the outbreak has travelled from China to Europe before spreading into Latin America and Africa. As China contemplates life after lockdown after adjusting to its new economic reality, Europe has its sights set on the crucial days and weeks ahead as an outbreak that started locally accelerates into an epidemic and now into a pandemic. As the United Kingdom takes bold measures in its attempts to throttle the outbreak, many areas of the world are days if not weeks behind including our own Overseas Territories. With the cases continuing to accelerate at home and away, British Overseas Territories are continuing to look to the world for measures that could spell the end of this outbreak.
Anguilla reported its first COVID cases on March 26 2020 as a US female visitor tested positive and with a second positive case shortly following, there is every reason to believe that there is local transmission. While the Health Ministry initiates urgent contact tracing to identify every individual who may have come into contact with the infected, there is hope that the island can successfully suppress further outbreak. However, with the Island continuing to rely on international aid and support from nearby French islands, there is concern that the outbreak will only continue to accelerate. With world total cases standing at 772,025, Anguilla has reported two cases.
The Island is not yet in lockdown, although the government have made moves to contain the virus with a night curfew beginning to minimise the chance of community spread. The curfew will be strictly enforced by police officers and soldiers, and hefty fines will be meted out or else face up to six months in jail. The Government have underlined their commitment to fighting the deadly virus by banning mass gatherings, with the Peppercorn Ceremony in St George’s, scheduled to take place on April 22, firmly cancelled.
Bermuda has recorded 22 cases of Covid-19 with 10 fully recovering, 2 remaining in hospital in a stable condition and the others currently isolating at home with mild symptoms.
British Virgin Islands
Total cases stand and two and as the crisis unfolds, the Government is contemplating the road ahead after requesting the medical aid of 30 Cuban health professionals.
Whilst still early on in its outbreak, the territory has implemented sweeping measures to contain the virus. With the rest of the world in the full throes of the most severe public health crisis in a generation and as the World Health Organisation announcing the epidemic had become a pandemic, the island was already prepared, having implemented sweeping regulations even before its first case. Schools were closed and public bans of 50 or more persons were implemented early on, hopefully meaning Cayman can cope well with the crisis.
With Spain now facing a severe crisis, there are concerns that cases will continue to spill over the border as Gibraltar remains reliant on mainland Europe for goods and services. The number of people known to have coronavirus has now risen to 69 according to the latest announcement by the Chief Minister Fabian Picardo. As the case numbers continue to rise, the UK Prime Minister has written to the Gibraltar Chief Minister to reassure the territory of his support in difficult times ahead and committed to send personnel, supplies and economic support if. With the Brits braced for its full impact, Gibraltarians have started to contemplate the rocky road ahead and are braced and ready to borrow up to 500 million pounds, representing around 20% of its total GDP.
As the first suspected cases start to trickle through and with around a sixth of the 3,000 strong community classed as high risk, there is a grave concern that this crisis could overwhelm the local health service. Complicating this, the Falkland Islands authorities do not have access to any coronavirus testing kits, meaning all samples must be flown to the UK, some 8,000 miles away. While confirmed cases stand at zero, there is still concern that this picture is only merely emerging.
Turks and Caicos Islands
On Monday, Premier Sharlene Cartwright Robinson confirmed the first case of the coronavirus but attempted to create a sense of calm as strict public health guidelines were implemented. While the island gets ready for the road ahead, there are five confirmed cases, and these continue to rise.
With cases accelerating in all overseas territories, concerns are rapidly increasing and there is a growing belief that this crisis cannot yet be contained. While Montserrat records five cases, there is still a ray of hope remaining, as Pitcairn, Saint Helena and the British Indian Ocean territory record nil cases to date.
This article is up to date as of 30 March 2020.