First Case of ‘Community Transmission’ of Coronavirus Reported in Territory

According to the Virgin Islands Department of Health, there have been three more confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the territory.

The three new cases bring the territory’s total confirmed cases to six; two in the St. Croix district and four in the St. Thomas/St. John district.

Authorities say the latest case was a St. Croix resident who recently returned home, self-quarantined at home and whom has recovered.

In St. Thomas, somebody contracted Coronavirus who was in close contact with someone who had the virus and had been in quarantine with that person, according to the DOH.

Perhaps what is most surprising, is one of the people who recently contracted the Coronavirus is a Cyril E. King airport employee with no recent travel history, making this the first case of “community transmission” of COVID-19 in the USVI.

The Department of Health says this case confirms there is person-to-person spread in our community and underscores the importance of social distancing.

Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion says, “Although community spread now isn’t surprising, this new development marks a turning point in this pandemic, and we have to remain vigilant to the social distancing guidelines provided (by the CDC) and all do our part to protect the most vulnerable of our population.”

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, social distancing is remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining a distance of about 6 feet from others when possible.

The V.I. Department of Health is urging residents to shelter in place as much as possible to try to prevent the spread and protect our community.

To avoid COVID-19 and help prevent its spread, Department of Health officials recommend the following steps:

• Limit socializing and close contact with others, as persons without symptoms can still transmit the virus.
• While sick, avoid contact with others.
• Avoid persons with cold or flu-like symptoms.
• Stay home if you are sick.
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and discard the tissue. Wash your hands immediately. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
• Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.
• Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60 percent alcohol.