As the US Virgin Islands prepares for the upcoming Carnival and Easter celebrations, Justa Encarnacion, commissioner of the Department of Health, is urging residents and visitors to remain vigilant against Covid-19. At a recent press briefing, Ms. Encarnacion emphasized the importance of protecting oneself and loved ones against the virus, especially given the social nature of the upcoming holiday season.
Despite the current low number of Covid-19 cases in the territory (only 17 active cases with a positivity rate of 2.1%), the commissioner stressed that the virus is still circulating and encouraged frequent hand washing, hand sanitizer use, and mask-wearing, especially for those with compromised immune systems. She also recommended that travelers wear masks on airplanes.
To ensure protection against serious illness, Ms. Encarnacion advised people to get flu shots and bivalent Covid-19 boosters. While the Department of Health’s free Covid-19 testing service is currently unavailable, the commissioner urged those who test negative at home but continue to feel ill or those who test positive on a home test to seek a confirmation test at a laboratory. A positive lab test result is necessary to access antiviral treatments that can reduce acute symptoms and the length of the illness and protect against the onset of Long Covid symptoms.
In addition to discussing Covid-19, Ms. Encarnacion also provided an update on the Charles Harwood Memorial Complex, announcing that the Department of Health had received a demolition permit for the facility and was one step closer to constructing a new state-of-the-art facility. She promised to hold a press conference in the coming weeks to provide further details on the demolition process and what the public needs to know.
As the territory gears up for the festive season, it’s important to heed the commissioner’s advice and take precautions to stay safe and healthy.