The content originally appeared on: The Anguillian Newspaper

Public health experts say they are feeling hopeful that more declines are ahead, and that countries are shifting from being in a pandemic to an endemic that is more consistent and predictable. However, many are also expressing concern that vaccine uptick has been below expectations. Nevertheless, they are considering lifting COVID-19 restrictions. This appears to be the case in Anguilla as well.

Speaking at the Government press briefing on Monday, February 21, Permanent Secretary for Health, Mr. Foster Rogers, observed: “As it stands right now, the situation in Anguilla does not warrant any further clamp down on large public gatherings. In fact, we feel the situation in Anguilla is quite good. We think Anguilla is in a good state to have mass gatherings.”

He continued: “We see no problem at this point in time for having a full-fledged Festival del Mar and Summer Festival. More than likely, we will be looking at lifting further restrictions as well beginning April 1, and this will bring major changes to our entry requirements and surveillance in Anguilla…but situations can change, and so, we will continue to monitor [them].”

Mr. Rogers also noted that although Anguilla is moving in line with the UK in dropping COVID restrictions, “Anguilla is not ready to drop ALL restrictions.” He observed: “We are going along with dropping restrictions, but the UK is in a different place than us. They have much higher vaccination coverage and a high level of natural immunity – about 95% of their population has COVID antibodies.

“They also have a much better developed healthcare system than we do, and they can deal with surges better than we can. So, we are very conservative in how we reduce our protocols. We will do it in a very measured way – based on our resources, epidemiological situation, and on the situation in countries that we mostly import persons from.”

He observed that Anguilla’s COVID statistics over the last three weeks highlight the progress we’ve made as a country in our fight against COVID-19, thanks to our adherence to the health protocols that are in place, especially vaccines and boosters.

Mr. Rogers further noted that 700 paediatric doses of the Pfizer vaccine had arrived on island for distribution to children ages 5-11 and that a vaccine schedule had been developed for eligible children to receive the Pfizer vaccine at the primary schools.

The experts caution that now is not the time to lessen vaccination efforts, but to double down on them. In the spring of 2021 when vaccines were becoming more readily available, some countries were eager to declare COVID-19 independence, and then came the Delta and Omicron surges.

Perhaps, we in Anguilla should approach COVID-19 like a hurricane season – we have to live with it and we have to learn from it. Residents are therefore advised to take personal responsibility for their own health and safety and that of their families and communities – make personal choices to manage the risk of contracting the virus.

Covid Statistics for Anguilla as of February 21
Confirmed Cases: 2,528
Recovered: 2,506
Active: 13

Deaths: 9 (7 unvaccinated adults; 2 vaccinated adults with underlying risk factors; 6 males, 3 females)

Isolation Unit: 3 (2 vaccinated female adults ages 35, 89; 1 vaccinated male adult age 75)

Vaccination Statistics for Anguilla as of February 18
Fully Vaccinated: 9,532 (61% adult population)
485 (35% ages 12-17)
35 (1st dose ages 4-11)
1 (2nd dose ages 4-11)