St Vincent and the Grenadines to take additional COVID-19 measures to contain community-spread

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Buccament Bay Resort to be secured by the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines for use as a quarantine facility

By Caribbean News Global contributor

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent —The government of St Vincent and the Grenadines and its legal apparatus is expected to take legal action to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the island, inclusive of negotiations for the use of Buccament Bay Resort as a COVID-19 quarantine facility.

According to sources familiar with both matters, “at least one indictment is expected to be laid against a COVID-19 patient – a female, alleged to have visited numerous locations in Kingstown and interacted with persons when, according to officials, knew, she was expected to be in quarantine and/or highly likely to be at risk of carrying the COVID-19 virus.”

Last week, minister of health, wellness and the environment, Luke Browne, reiterated that his ministry is taking very serious the preparation for dealing with possible challenges associated with COVID-19. He reminded the public that “there is neither a vaccine nor specific anti-viral treatment for COVID-19, however, the government “has purchased the Cuban drug Interferon used to good effect in the treatment of COVID-19 cases in China and elsewhere.”

The individual travel history is said to have arrived in St Vincent and the Grenadines from the United States of America on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, and along with other passengers were instructed to be in required quarantine.

The suspect female is said to developed symptoms and began coughing ferociously, according to residents of Owia who preferred to remain anonymous. Upon hearing the violent coughing, the authorities were contacted. What is frightening about this case said an observer is that “she was, apparently seen visiting many stores in Kingstown, government offices, and spent two days in a village name Odinboro, before travelling to her home village of Owia.”

The suspect female was subsequently kept in isolation Saturday, March 28, 2020, while test results reported her positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, April 01, 2020; subsequently, the process of contact tracing began. To date, 51 persons deemed to have been in contact with this female have been tested. Health authorities are awaiting the results.

The other COVID-19 measure expected by the government is to convert the Buccament Bay Resort, currently closed, into a quarantine facility. This according to a health official is due to persons who are supposed to be in quarantine but reportedly seen walking the streets of Kingstown.

As of April 2, 2020, there are 465 persons in quarantine, according to prime minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves on NBC Radio, last Thursday and that, all persons coming into the country will be required to submit to quarantine for 14 days.

All flights by international carriers into the country have been cancelled, and effective Saturday, April 04, 2020, regional carrier LIAT has suspended all passenger service.

To date, St Vincent and the Grenadines has seven COVID-19 cases. The first case making a full recovery, while six are active. Four of these cases travelled to St Vincent and the Grenadines from the USA on March 25, 2020.

Way forward

CARPHA is reminding Member States to ramp up their disease surveillance efforts for acute respiratory infections/severe acute respiratory infections both at the primary and secondary care levels, as a matter of urgency. This is to include widening their surveillance focus to be able to detect any cases that have not travelled, which can be an early indication of local transmission.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general has asked that individuals and countries to refrain from using therapeutics that have not been demonstrated to be effective in the treatment of COVID-19. Various trials are underway to test drugs for use in treating COVID-19 cases. Discussions are underway in the region to determine participation in the WHO SOLIDRITY trial.

CARPHA is working with technical experts across the region to provide up-to-date guidance and technical advice to CMS. New guidelines have been prepared for the management of COVID-19 cases on airlines and guidance for Hotel Workers. CARPHA remains committed to providing support and guidance to Member States on how to strengthen their health systems response should there be person-to-person transmission in the Caribbean.

CARPHA continues to work through the regional coordination mechanism for health security and the various regional coordination efforts to engage and support Member States, regional and international partners for the health security of the region.

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