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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says that St. Vincent and the Grenadines needs an isolation facility and not only because of Covid-19, also known as the coronavirus.

Gonsalves, speaking on WE FM, on Monday, said that his government currently quarantines people in their homes.

These people can decide to voluntarily abide by the terms of the quarantine.

“But if you don’t want to be quarantined voluntarily we go to the court and we get an order under the relevant statute, under the relevant law,” the prime minister said.

The Ministry of Health has said that while quarantine and isolation are public health practices used to stop or limit the spread of diseases, there is a significant difference between the two terminologies.

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“Quarantine is used to separate and restrict the movement of persons who are well and may have been exposed to a communicable disease like Covid-19. This is done to see if they develop signs and symptoms over the incubation period of the particular disease.

“Isolation is used to separate known ill persons who have a communicable disease from those who are healthy. Isolation restricts the movement of ill persons to help stop the spread of certain diseases,” the ministry said in a press release in late February.

The prime minister said that his government was hoping to erect a quarantine facility at the Evesham clinic but residents of the Marriaqua village objected.

Of course nobody wants it in their backyard. Nobody wanted a prison near to them,” he said, adding,  “Nobody wants any facility to deal with aggregate next to them…”

Gonsalves continued:

“We need a facility really and do it where — we have to do it promptly, but we have to do it well enough for on-going infectious diseases because…”

The prime minister said “the way the world is and the way we communicate and the way people move and the way some people do things in laboratories and all what happens” there will be more frequent outbreaks of viruses.

“… look over the last decade or two, we had bird flu, chicken flu, SARS, Ebola, now coronavirus,” Gonsalves said.

“So, we have to equip an isolation facility and keep it properly equipped. So this is not only for now.”

The prime minister said his government is taking a lot of precautions.

He, however, noted that the literature says that it is only a very small percentage of people who contract Covid-19 would actually get very ill.

An even smaller number succumb to the illness and the people who succumb, by and large, are older people who have some pre-existing condition, the prime minister said, mentioning hypertension, diabetes, respiratory problems, heart problems.

He said that the precautions are repeated.

“Wash your hands regularly. Before you eat and after you eat, you wash your hands. You go to the toilet, you wash your hands, you know, try avoid touching up your face and all kinds of different things. You know, wash your hands. You know, if you are sneezing, kinda crouch your hand and sneeze into your elbow. All of these things,” the Gonsalves said.

The prime minister said:

“But we don’t have to panic. We just have to take reasonable, careful steps. Of course, as always, you have a group of people, who for malignant, political reasons wish the worst to see how Ralph would handle it. 

“But if you wish that it might be grandmother or your father, who might succumb or that of your friend or your spouse.

“… we have to really grow up with these things in the country and be serious. We know that social media brings out — the media bring the worst in many people all over the world. But we have to resist that temptation in our small country. And those who are overseas, they feel that they could want to create any problem for anybody. They only create and problems for their own selves through their families.”    

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