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Falklands' government is responding to the coronavirus challenge magnificently, governor Nigel Phillips

Saturday, March 28th 2020 - 08:32 UTC
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“Talking of duty, please be assured that I and my team at Government House are in lock step with you in confronting the Coronavirus head on” “Talking of duty, please be assured that I and my team at Government House are in lock step with you in confronting the Coronavirus head on”

In a brief message to the people of the Falkland Islands referred to the current coronavirus epidemic, governor Nigel Phillips CBE praised the Islands' government magnificent response to the challenge and underlined the toughness and resilience of the Falklands' people.

The people of the Falkland Islands, like the entire globe, are facing an unprecedented challenge in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic. Events in China, Spain, Italy and elsewhere are shocking. That whole populations have been effectively locked down in response to an unseen menace cannot help but make people uneasy.

Although we had already taken precautions, the news of a child being admitted to KEMH with COVID like symptoms led to a significant strengthening of the existing measures, based on the presumption that the disease has arrived in these Islands. We can readily join together in praying for the speedy recovery of the child and comfort for the parents and family.

I know many people are scared. It is understandable. But I want to assure you that thanks to detailed planning and preparation, the Falkland Islands Government is responding to this challenge magnificently. It is informing its position with the best scientific and medical advice available. And it is exercising an abundance of caution. What the government is doing is right. And its message is also right. Let me therefore join government officers and the elected members in urging you to follow the instructions that have been given. The instructions are designed to protect us and the people on the front line working tirelessly on our behalf.

Part of the concern people feel will be borne of our relative isolation. Over the years the Falkland Islands have increased their connectivity to the world. We have benefited from this enormously. Suddenly, with almost no notice, nations are closing their borders. At such times, the connection with the United Kingdom becomes ever more important and I know, that the recent disruption to the air bridge has for some families awaiting the return of their loved ones, been an emotional trial.

Please let me assure you that Ministers in the UK understand fully how vital this link is. Every effort has been made by the Ministry of Defense to overcome the challenges faced by the air bridge in the current situation. Their determination has met with success and as I speak, the air bridge is making its way here. Further, it carrying essential medicines, the logistics of which were herculean, but nonetheless achieved. No-one can promise you that in this dynamic global environment there will not be problems in the future, but I can promise you, that all of us are doing our absolute best to make sure the air bridge will keep getting through.

Good governance and leadership are vital. As we move through this crisis and emerge at the other side, and please, be in no doubt that we will succeed, I remain committed to working in a manner that recognizes the democratic legitimacy afforded by the Constitution of these Islands. Executive Council is the vehicle to achieve that, as it places the elected members of the Assembly at the heart of all decision making. That is right too.

The Public Service deliver the decisions made by the Executive Council. The ability of our officers to go above and beyond has been extraordinarily reassuring. Now, perhaps more than ever, the Public Service needs sound leadership. The current Chief Executive, Mr Barry Rowland, has amply demonstrated that he is a safe hand on the tiller. Although due to retire from his position in October of this year, the Members of the Assembly and I agreed that in the current circumstances it would be right to ask Mr Rowland to extend by six months. I am pleased to inform you that Mr Rowland has agreed to this request. We are grateful to him.

In addition to the Public Service, we are also blessed to have on the Islands the men and women of the British Forces South Atlantic Islands. They are a vital demonstration of the UK government’s commitment to the Islands, it is therefore comforting to have them with us. They are far from home and they, like us, will be concerned about their family and friends. But to be clear, none should doubt their resolve to do their duty.

And talking of duty, please be assured that I and my team at Government House are in lock step with you in confronting the Coronavirus head on.

Let me end where I started. The people of these Islands. You have faced tough times before and you overcame them all. Living here for 2 and half years, I have seen repeatedly that this is a community that pulls together. Caring for each other is written into your DNA. Your toughness, resilience and your compassion can achieve remarkable things. The repatriation of over 650 passengers from four cruise ships in 3 days is just the latest evidence of how true that is – these islands have once again impressed the world. I have complete faith in the resilience of this community.

Keep caring for one another, think well of others working under trying circumstances – they are doing their best, and follow the government’s instructions to protect your loved ones.

Although there may be difficult days ahead, together, we will prevail. Thank you.

Top Comments

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  • Guillote

    I think this person is clearly very concerned about this issue.

    Mar 30th, 2020 - 05:06 am -3
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