No one seems excluded from the rumors that have commenced spreading since residents and visitors on Jost Van Dyke were ordered to remain at home under quarantine for seven days on 21 July. The quarantine order was put in place after reports that an airline passenger who travelled from the BVI on 15 July tested positive on arrival in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. However, BVI Premier Hon. Andrew Fahie explained that since the announcement some untruths have been making rounds via Whatsapp even implicating him.
The quarantine order was described as sudden and even though the Minister for Health Hon. Carvin Malone and the Premier explained that the actions were necessary. It was stated that there have been heavy criticism and gossip circulating via Whatsapp.
In noting that the occurrence of the rumors is unnecessary, Hon. Fahie lamented the circulation of rumors during the 21 July sitting of the House: “All kind of gossip is going around I even heard about myself in certain things – this place is long on rumors and short on facts.”
While stating that even the BVI Leader is being personally implicated in the rumors, the Premier disclosed: “There is so much things out there. I went to Jost Van Dyke and I hear that I was by the person where they were staying and whatever the case may be pure untruths…[they say]I had lunch there, and I didn’t even eat [on]Jost Van Dyke. I came back over and went Frenchman’s Cay and ate… As if going to Jost Van Dyke is a crime, as if I should feel bad about going to Jost Van Dyke…When I hear what is happening in the public it disturbs my spirit because it makes it seem like somebody did something,” Hon. Fahie said.
Nonetheless, the BVI Leader admitted that there has not been much information about the recent claim about the traveler or the situation on Jost Van Dyke. However, he said that he could not divulge any information at the current time.
“We don’t have any other facts right now…We ourselves are waiting to get an update so there is nothing else that we can say and there is nothing else that I would like to say at this time to give any false thing to the public,” Hon. Fahie mention.
As he admitted that the quarantine was a tough solution, Hon. Fahie hinted that there were other factors at play: “I know that some of the measures are very tough and all of us have to abide by it, but at the end of the day the health officials said let us look and see just out of precaution because there are other things to the matter of the alleged person that came out and we just want to make sure. It is better safe than sorry. There were some targeted sections that they wanted to do.”
Nonetheless, he said that even as government tries to gather the facts Whatsapp is alive with false information. “I hear different things on the Whatsapp than what’s true…It seems like we insensitive but how else can we handle this matter Mr. Speaker. We tried to deal with it and hardly anyone has gotten any sleep.”
The Premier further said that he was hesitant about speaking out of turn on the matter so as not to cause the Territory to be in unnecessary duress. “Getting the coronavirus is not a death sentence if someone gets it then we have to deal with it. It could happen to anyone of us.”
Meanwhile, he stated that precautions were taken to identify persons who were in contact with the suspected COVID traveler. “We already have 17 persons from Jost Van Dyke in Tortola in quarantine that were around the person… in quarantine their testing already started. We are waiting for the results. We don’t know the total number because we didn’t get the updated report of how many have been quarantined thus far and carried for testing, all we are doing right now is waiting.”
Hon. Fahie said that there are suggestions that the government has not been forthcoming but he said that he did not know more than what was already disclosed: “There is nothing else for us to say other than we are waiting. I understand that people want to know more but I don’t believe in saying things that you do not have the facts for you do not have the information of in the public domain like this because the spoken word comes not back.”