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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. (File photo by Kingsley Roberts/Facebook)
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. (File photo by Kingsley Roberts/Facebook)
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St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) will not close its borders to the United States amidst the spread of the coronavirus, known officially as COVID-19.

SVG, however, has implemented 14-day quarantine for persons arriving from a number of countries in Asia and Europe that have been significantly impacted by the virus, which has claimed more than 3,000 lives globally.

“A big danger is facing us: coronavirus. We have to be careful that we don’t get hysterical about it. Some people getting hysterical,” Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told supporters of his Unity Labour Party at its West Kingstown constituency conference on Sunday.

“In addressing this, we have to contain the problem. We have to manage the problem. And we have to find a resolution if anybody gets it in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. But we can’t close ourselves off from the world,” he said.

He said that 4,000 people were in quarantine in New York and there were 400 confirmed cases of COVID-19 there.

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SVG has a large diaspora in New York, which is believed to be home to more Vincentians that the 110,000 resident in SVG.

Gonsalves said:

“But let me ask this question. We have a lot of people in New York. They’re coming home to visit the family. You want tell me I could stop them from coming to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

SVG has no confirmed cases of the illness and Gonsalves said that his government had to contain the virus and use certain measures to do so.

“You see there are a lot of people who talk and don’t think. Is not an easy business; is a complicated question,” Gonsalves said.

He said that the economies of the Caribbean are already suffering because people do not want to travel amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.

“And in some cases, we are preventing some people from coming in depending on the circumstances. But if this thing spread wild in America and this thing spread wild in Canada and spread wild in England — in the United Kingdom — … those three places you get the most tourists, what are we going to do?

“Are we going to lock off ourselves from the world or do we have to use some other kind of more carefully articulated strategies of containment?”

Gonsalves said that SVG has to make sure it has better border control.

“Because I will tell you this. A public health hazard, too, is if you have a problem where people lose their work because of the virus and they have an increase in problems and more violence and break-ins happen. That is also a public health problem.

“So you have to have people who lead and who could analyse the problem very carefully.”

He said that at the moment, SVG has “a particular level of containment”.

The prime minister said that his government wanted to establish an isolation unit in Evesham but residents protested.

The government will, therefore, lease or purchase a property in Argyle for this purpose.

“We will retrofit it, it going cost us more money. We want to buy it. But given climate change, and given the spread of infectious diseases over the last 10, 12, 15 years, SARS, swine flu, bird flu, H1N1, Ebola, … we have to get accustomed to the idea that in the world in which we are facing and going, you’re going to have more and more infectious diseases.

“So we need a couple [of] properly equipped isolation centres — not necessarily for coronavirus, but to keep them in order for what pops up, what comes up,” Gonsalves said.

The prime minister added:

“And we have to prepare ourselves as best as we can. Assess it properly. But don’t panic because the worst thing you can do is panic…

“I urge you to make sure we don’t have any community spreading if any [cases of COVID-19] comes to St. Vincent.”

Gonsalves urged observance of proper hygiene, including the washing of hands and proper disposal of garbage.

“You look after yourself because what is happening, these viruses will cause you a lot of damage and maybe kill you if you’re weak; if you have a respiratory problem if you have a heart problem, if you have hypertension — high blood pressure which you have to watch it you have to test it you got to pass by the doctor make sure you try and keep it [in check].

“I know sometimes the food them which we love to eat is some of things which will give us the high blood pressure. So we have to try and learn how to cut out some of those things and we gotta listen to help spread the word and we have to be careful because that is the world which is awaiting us more and more; not hysteria. But when we see them talking, they would make it seem as though they’re wishing that something happen, come ya to gi’ Ralph problem,” the prime minister said.

On Friday, Minister of Health Senator Luke Browne told a press conference in Kingstown that there was a “reasonable likelihood” that COVID-19 would reach SVG.

He said that Kingstown’s response was focused on three areas, namely development of in-country testing capacity and making sure the country has all the medical and other supplies that would be necessary for case management; isolation centre; and comprehensive risk communications campaign.

18 replies on “SVG will not shut borders to US amidst COVID-19”

  1. I think the PM is seeing this all as it should be seen. To panic and close the borders can mean a destroyed economy for a country that already has a poor and mismanaged economy; because most of our economy is based on tourism, that would devastate us! I would also add that it is imperative that we seek to find proper testing equipment to determine if a person is actually infected or not. It seems that it is inevitable that we will get the virus here in SVG. If we see it as inevitable, then we will be able to make the best decisions to contain the problem.

  2. I’m sure the prime minister has a TV even in his shit house. Is he watching what is happening globally ? What would he say if the virus slips through and takes out 100 of us ????

  3. This is some crap that half of you be like yall should let people in before you leave the airport in the UNITED STATES you have to go thru the process of getting checked for this virus if you going kn a cruise when flying you being checked and then before getting on the ship you’re being checked again so y’all can stop talking non sense for once

  4. Jolly Green says:

    A week ago an aircraft arrived in Martinique bringing Italians and French to board a cruise ship. There were demonstrations by Martiniquans and the police fired teargas to disperse the riot like gathering.

    The people boarded their ship and it arrived in Kingstown where several thousand people including Itallians and French people walked around the city.

    Only a handful of people currently come from the US compared off a cruise. Yesterday the 8th of March 2020 there were 131 new confirmed cases in Italy, the most eve in one day.

    The are not testing people in SVG and have no laboratory capable of testing for the virus.

    If we get it in SVG we can directly blame all the government spokesmen and those controlling who comes in.

  5. QUO VARDIS . What are you trying to say? What is wrong with what PM Gonsalves said? What the PM is saying is the truth. Are you going to stop every foreigner from entering St.Vincent? What about those Vincentians you travel overseas and are returning home? May God forbid it but right now their can be unknown cases of COVID 19 there and no one is aware of it at this point in time. I sincerely hope Vincentians will indulge in regular hand washing etc. Used tissue or hand towel when coughing and sneezing.

  6. I think what he is saying is utter nonsense. If other countries are shutting their borders why cant we? This government has had 19 years to fix the health care system and they have done nothing! If other countries with far more resources are struggling to contain this virus then we are doomed. The livelyhood of citizens are of priority to every other country except SVG and its just sad!

  7. There he goes again making bogus statements. You should be doing everything possible to prevent this virus from reaching our shores. It would be highly inappropriate to allow the continued traffic of people from infected areas. Mr. PM you are treating this as if it is a joke even though you’re above 70 yourself, the most vulnerable group. The first thing that has to be doing in to insure the public is properly informed about this virus. And, have contingency plans in place. Medical personnel should be on high alert on the lookout for any anomaly. GOD help us.

  8. I wrote a comment on this article when it came out but for some reason Kenton did not post it, so he probably will not post this one either:
    I just want to say that I agree with the Prime Minister on how he is dealing with this… at this time. He is right that we do not really have a proper place to quarantine large amounts of people if and when it gets nasty here. I have been reading reports that NO COUNTRY has a quick and easy way to determine if a person actually has this virus, not even the USA or China. Even the lung x-ray for “glass lung” is not reliable because what they may think is COVID-19 can also be other from other ailments. If SVG shuts the borders we will have immediate economic devastation which will bring on many other serious problems. The economy of SVG is already terrible due to our government’s terrible economic philosophy and bad policy, why destroy what little there is?
    It is possible or possibly probable. that we already have this virus in SVG but it has just not been identified. What life will be like here and globally could be much different one month from now, not only from the virus but from the way governments react to it, but at present I believe the PM is seeing and reacting to this correctly.

  9. Margarita Samuel says:

    Am a strong young supporter of the ulp and hearing this just makes me second guess my frame of choice doesn’t matter how much sense you trying to make with this speech there’s still some of us that have good sense you know smh se can lock down our country for safety at this time because of what’s going on world wide after well equipped country can’t quite contain this covid 19 is it our little country that will be able to manage or keep it under control stop thinking about selfish gain and think about ppl lives this must come to past so we should just contain ourselves until so lock down the country

  10. covid19 ready says:

    So i guess This is LABOUR LOVE! We are Leaving our borders open for all and sundry because we are very well prepared for handling COVID19. Lets see the check list…
    COVID19 testing equipment in order….Check
    Isolation Units prepared and outfitted…check
    Quarantine units at hospitals prepared and outfitted…check
    Hospitals fully equipped – check
    Nurses, ambulance staff etc fully trained in handling covid19 cases- check
    immigration and customs workers trained …check
    Our people are fully sensitized about covid19 and knows who to call and what to do if they think they may have the covid19- Check
    Then bring it on! WE ARE READY!!

  11. With all due respect Prime Minister Mr. Ralphs Gonsalves. When all the Vincentians are DEAD from the (Coronavirus or COVID-19) who will vote for you. Who will help you carry on the government there in St. Vincent and the Grenatines? You alone Sir.

    (1 Timothy 6:10 . For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. ) The word of God is yes and amen…..

  12. The PM is looking at this as a world leader.The security council position has gotten to his head.As far as the PM’s concerned he is rubbing shoulders with France ,the US and China which have permanent seats on the UN.When he’s making those pronouncements he should bring the international media into Vincy.In his head he’s a major player on the world stage.Whar a time in Vincy.

  13. Here is what is happening in China, Iran, and Italy. When a person comes down with the virus, in many cases, especially the old, they require being couplling to a ventilator to allow them to carry on breathing. There are quite simply not enough ventilators, so doctors have to choose who will live, and who will die.

    Seeing as SVG has a total of four ventilators, if we get more than four people with Conrona who require a ventilator, they are dead. There is little choice by Vincentian doctors of who lives and who dies, almost all will die.

    That is the risk that Ralph Gonsalves is taking with our lives. Almost everyone over the age of 55 who gets the virus will be dead, and the older they are, the more likely they are doomed to die.

  14. Our Trump!!
    I wonder what will happen to the economy if our people start going down with the virus.
    It’s like let it in to save the economy, but we will blow the economy by letting it in.
    My concern is with those cruise ships and tourists walking around the town. And we have no follow up on these tourists to know if any of them eventually get sick or not.
    What a country!!

  15. Well Duke what good is an economy when we are all dead? Italy in lockdown as is much of the rest of Europe and now the US has closed its doors to European flights for a month. But it’s business as usual in SVG! Poor SVG, ah waah we ah go do if it hit we hard?

    “Patients infected with the coronavirus are the most contagious BEFORE they get severe symptoms – and they can still spread the killer illness when they feel better, study finds. The German study is one of the first coronavirus studies outside China”

    Up there in the UK one of their “Former National Health Service doctor trapped in coronavirus-hit Italy begs the UK Government to shut down EVERYTHING in the fight against the killer infection as he warns it’s NOT just the elderly who are dying. Professor Mohamed Abu Hilal, writing from Brescia, Italy, made the warning.”

    So DUKE guy we ha fo jus wait an see!

    1. Your concerns are valid James H. As I said in my comment that our PM made the right decision(s) for even now, days after I made my comment. He can later rais the panic level to RED if necessary.Yes! To close the border is a wise thing to do on the one hand and that means no more cargo ships coming, no flights, no more food imports or anything else. Even that will not save us from the virus. I also stated in my opinion that it is inevitable that we will have far more cases here in SVG. I must add: even if we do close the borders. There is so much information out there about the virus and one thing contradicts another. People that have left comments for this article have also but much information that is probably false. No, we are not all going to die! The world will change drastically very soon but it will not come to an end. It will also not come to an end in 11 1/2 years as Greta Thunberg and AOC warns. Closing OUR ECONOMY is not going to save us, it may only delay things for a short time.

  16. Duke dear, I at least always give up my information source and would never engage myself in false information. We are small badly governed and equally badly managed country. We can hardly survive without outside assistance, therefore, it is only just prudent that we should seek to err on the side of caution when all the world is closing borders.

    “More than 600 British passengers – many of them elderly – were tonight stranded on a cruise ship in the Caribbean after it was blocked from a string of ports after a coronavirus outbreak on board”.

    “British holidaymakers scramble to get out of Spain as they tussle with baton-wielding police as country is put on lockdown and bans nearly all travel after coronavirus cases soar to 6,391”

    As Italy, Spain, France, USA and all Europe and Asia tighten curbs in coronavirus fight and Lebanon declares a state of medical emergency, with even Colombia now recently closing its border with Venezuela over coronavirus it would seem most prudent to follow, yet we are playing a wait and see game. Is such a move very prudent DUKE?

    Perhaps it’s time too for us to begin a drive into growing more food as opposed to Cannabis cultivation but such a decision would be far too prudent for us!

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