There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the V.I. Department of Health reported in a news release issued Thursday.
Two out of now four “Persons under Investigation” (PUI) have tested negative, the news release said.
“This should not alarm the public but be an indication of the high level of alert and stringent preventative measures the Health Department is proactively taking in response to this global outbreak,” the news release said.
In light of increased worldwide spread, as an extra precaution the testing criteria has been widened to include severe respiratory cases that did not travel to affected areas. It is also important to note that influenza activity is also at high levels and may present with similar symptoms.
Health officials know that early discovery and isolation are critical to preventing the spread of the disease. As the symptoms of COVID-19 are very similar to many other respiratory illnesses, including the common cold and influenza, it is expected that with time more people who meet the testing criteria will be tested.
The Health Department said people can protect themselves and their families from COVID-19 and other diseases by:
• Frequently washing your hands with soap and warm water,
• Avoiding touching your face – especially your mouth, nose and eyes,
• When coughing and sneezing cover your mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue, then throw tissue away immediately and wash hands,
• Avoiding close contact with anyone who has a cold or flu-like symptoms, and
• Avoiding all nonessential travel to mainland China, Iran, Italy and South Korea.
“If you or someone you know has traveled to a location with human-to-human transmission of COVID-19 within 14 days of becoming ill with fever and respiratory symptoms call ahead before going to see a doctor or emergency room and tell them your symptoms and where you traveled from,” the department said.
People can report a suspected case by calling the Department of Health’s Epidemiology Division at 340-712-6299 or 340-774-7477 ext. 5647.
The Health Department encourages the community to only share accurate health information from trusted sources.
“Misinformation hurts real efforts to inform the public regarding important public health matters. I’m encouraging Virgin Islanders to always look to official sources for accurate information,” said Jahnesta Ritter, Department of Health director of public relations.
The Department of Health said it will continue to monitor the outbreak as it develops and will provide updates to the public.