The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially declared the Caribbean island of Anguilla as COVID-19-free, the country’s Ministry of Health announced Friday. The island nation’s number of reported cases currently stands at three, with all patients fully recovered.
According to the ministry, they received notification from the WHO on June 16 confirming the country’s classification had been changed from “sporadic cases” to “no cases”. The update from the WHO forms part of its review of the transmission classification of the novel coronavirus cases.
“This is undoubtedly an important milestone and a great achievement for Anguilla. Moreover, we have come this far because of a unified effort and the cooperation of the wider community,” the statement said.
The Eastern Caribbean country’s borders are currently closed till June 30. Though the ministry confirmed the government is set to gradually begin reopening its borders, they entreated Anguillans to keep observing the safety protocols to prevent the virus from “ever establishing a foothold” in the country.
“This includes staying home if unwell, hand and respiratory hygiene and maintaining a physical distance of at least 3 feet from other persons, especially from those with respiratory symptoms (e.g. coughing, sneezing),” the ministry said, adding that “these practices are the new normal which are of even greater importance to be maintained into the foreseeable future as we must now strive to coexist with the virus.”
They added: “However, today we pause to celebrate and the Ministry of Health and the Government of Anguilla hereby express sincerest congratulations and appreciation to the people of Anguilla for this remarkable achievement. We need your continued cooperation going forward.”
The country announced its first two COVID-19 cases on March 26, with the third case confirmed on April 2. Following the closure of its borders and the effects the pandemic had on the country’s economy and people, Premier Victor F. Banks announced an economic support package for those affected on April 3.
This included the implementation of a “temporary unemployment benefit for qualified persons whose jobs were impacted by the pandemic,” as well as packages to support struggling businesses to avoid “the destruction of the economy.” Premier Banks also announced a set of other initiatives intended to “stimulate” the economy.