Falklands panic: Islanders put in isolation over coronavirus outbreak fears

However, the Falklands Government has stressed there are no confirmed cases, and all necessary measures were in place to ensure the illness could be contained if it did spread, including social distancing – while the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has stressed Britain will “stand by” Falklanders, as well as residents of all the British overseas territories as the crisis escalates.

Speaking on Monday, Dr Andrea Clausen, Director of Natural Resources, revealed the Islands were in the process of repatriating a total of seven cruise ships by helping passengers, including many from the UK, to catch charter flights back to the their home countries via Mount Pleasant airport.

Every precaution was being taken to ensure nobody with COVID-19 was permitted to disembark – but she also revealed a number of people already on the Islands had displayed symptoms consistent with COVID-19, and had been isolated as a precaution.

With one, 26-bed hospital and seven ventilators, and being located several thousand miles from the UK in the south Atlantic, the Falklands could not afford to take chances, she stressed.

She told Express.co.uk: “We are being very careful because we are a very small community here.

The Falkland Islands has stepped up its response as it is considered likely there will be COVID-19 here

Falklands Government spokesman

“We would therefore be very vulnerable if COVID-19 were to take hold.”

A spokesman for the Falkland Islands Government told Express.co.uk: “There are no confirmed cases on the Falkland Islands, but the Falkland Islands Government has put in place a robust plan to deal with COVID-19.

“The Falkland Islands has stepped up its response as it is considered likely there will be COVID-19 here.

“These include measures to protect our most vulnerable population, such as self-isolation and for anyone reporting COVID-19 like symptoms.

“Social distancing is also in practice.

“Our aim as with other countries is to keep demand on our hospital at a manageable level.

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“Our hospital is well-prepared for treating patients with more serious symptoms.

“Where there are any issues requiring additional support we will continue to work closely with the UK Government”.

An FCO spokesman told Express.co.uk: “The UK Government is working closely with the Overseas Territories to ensure they receive the help that is necessary.

“The UK Government is procuring medical equipment and support for each Territory immediately.

“But we will also stand by the Overseas Territories in the long run as they deal with the impacts of the pandemic.”

Because the Falklands is such a remote archipelago, British officials are monitoring the situation very closely, as well as that of the other 13 British overseas territories.

According to the World Health Organization’s website, so far the total number of cases per territory is:

Gibraltar (population 34,000): 15

Bermuda (population 62,000): 6

Cayman Islands (population 68,000): 5

Montserrat (Population 5,200): 1

Turks and Caicos Islands: 1

No deaths have so far resulted, and no cases have so far been confirmed on any of the remaining nine.

However, the British military bases of Akrotiri and Dhekelia is on Cyprus, which has but 124 cases, and three deaths.

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