The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed six more lives in just 48 hours in the British Virgin Islands, bringing the death toll from the pandemic in the territory to 23.

On Tuesday, BVI Health Minister Carvin Malone confirmed the deaths and identified the deceased as:

• A 50-year-old woman who died Sunday.

• A 71-year-old man, and three women — ages 66, 41 and 74 — who died Monday.

• A 67-year-old man who died Tuesday.

According to Malone, five of the individuals died at Orlando Smith Hospital and the sixth died at home. Neither he, nor Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ronald Georges, indicated whether any of the deceased were related as was the case of three siblings who died over the span of nine days.

Georges, however, gave some indication of how the cases could be spreading in the community.

“Persons who test positive for COVID-19 need to disclose their positive status, especially if they live in a household with other people. We are seeing a number of occurrences of persons not disclosing and therefore endangering persons around them,” he said.

Malone, in his statement, said Health officials have met with a team of more than 45 doctors who have pledged their support “and we are calling on the nurses active, retired, at home or abroad, to lend their services and support at this very important moment.”

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the doctors are local, but in the past, BVI officials have announced assistance from a team of doctors from Cuba.

“This is a difficult time for all of us here in the territory. We have never seen a situation like this unfold. I pray that God continues to grant us favor and mercy to see us through this very troubling time,” Malone said.

As of July 18, confirmed active cases had fallen to 1,604 with a reduction in daily increase in new cases, Malone said.

Health officials have been urging residents to get vaccinated and extended a vaccination drive-thru effort, Operation Protect Each Other, through Saturday.

Individuals can receive the AstraZeneca vaccine from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily at the Festival Village Grounds, Malone said.

Residents are also urged to adhere to the following protocols to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19:

• Wash and/or sanitize hands for 20 seconds.

• Wear masks properly — it should cover both the nose and mouth.

• Always cover coughs and sneezes regardless of vaccination status.

• Adhere to social distancing guidelines; by physically distancing self at least 3 feet from others.

A 14-day curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily that was scheduled to end Friday, will remain effect for an additional two weeks.