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A LIAT ATR-72 aircraft.
A LIAT ATR-72 aircraft.
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The Ministry of Health is conducting contact tracing for passengers on two LIAT flights, including the one on which the nation’s sole confirmed case of the coronavirus — COVID-19 travelled.

On Saturday, a passenger on a LIAT flight who “had a recent history of contact with a COVID-19 positive case” arrived in St. Vincent and the Grenadines aboard LIAT flight LI771 en route to Trinidad and Tobago.

“As per international health regulations requirements, the passenger has been quarantined and will remain in quarantine for the next seven days,” the ministry said in a press statement late Monday.

The ministry said that the passenger has not shown any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 but a clinical sample has been taken for analysis. 

“Contact tracing for all contacts of this passenger has commenced. Passengers arriving in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on LI771 on March 14th, 2020, who have not yet been contacted by the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment, are asked to call the COVID-19 Hotline at telephone number 534-4325.

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“The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment urges the cooperation of the public in this matter.”

While the COVID-19 hotline was not operational on Saturday, one day after Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said it was set up, a call by iWitness News to the number at 5:02 a.m. on Sunday was answered on the second ring.

Meanwhile, the ministry is also conducting contact tracing in relation to its sole case of COVID-19, which was confirmed last Wednesday, March 11.

The patient was a Vincentian female who had returned home from the United Kingdom on March 7.

The United Kingdom is currently reporting community transmission of COVID-19. The patient, who is between age 30 and 35, contacted the relevant healthcare services on March 10 and has been in isolation since then.

A clinical sample was collected and sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency Laboratory for analysis. Laboratory tests confirmed the diagnosis at approximately 5:28 p.m. on March 10.

The patient, family members and other primary contacts have been informed of the diagnosis and possible exposure and steps are being taken to prevent the risk of local transmission, the ministry said. 

“These measures include the identification and contact tracing for all possible exposed persons. Relevant passengers arriving on LI771 from Barbados were traced and followed up according to World Health Organization guidelines. To date, all contacts of the index case have shown no evidence of COVID-19,” the ministry said.

At a press conference on Wednesday, where SVG’s first case of COVID-19 was announced, Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Simone Keizer-Beache was asked if contract tracing will include persons on the flight on which the woman travelled.

Keizer-Beache, a physician, said research has shown that if someone who is positive for a corona-like virus is not symptomatic — meaning they’re not coughing, have no fever, and have no obvious display of illness — that the benefits of doing contact tracing for the other persons on that flight are “minimal — meaning that the risk to the other passengers is minimal.

“However, we will still make every effort to alert the persons sitting three rows in front, three rows behind that person so that they are aware,” Keizer-Beache said.

She added: “As you know, when you sit in the plane, you’re given a number these days; sometimes we move around, but this is information that is readily available.”

None of the officials at the press conference gave any information about the flight on which the woman had travelled.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, Gonsalves proposed reducing SVG’s US$40 departure tax for six months and encouraged hotels to slash rates in an effort to encourage intra-regional travel so as to dampen the economic impact of COVID-19.

9 replies on “COVID-19 in SVG: Officials conducting contact tracing for 2 LIAT flights”

  1. Master's Student says:

    Everybody all over the world doing the necessary precautions to protect their citizens…. Mr Trudeau of Canada for example has decided to self- quarantine, close parliament and is about to stop all international travel until this virus has passed, to protect his citizens… is only Dr. Gonsalves, our so called trusted leader, exposing its citizens to external threats of this Virus. Clearly he has no value for Vincentians and their health….we are just seen as his pawns to be played on a chess board!

  2. Master's Student says:

    Cuba Has 4 confirmed cases so far, yet he still wants to encourage travel of Cubans to the little island who is now vulnerable to the virus… makes no sense to me! we already have two planes coming in with persons who would have contact with persons who tested positive…..why is Dr. Gonsalves doing this to us??

  3. The British Foreign Office is advising their nationals against all but essential travel to the US after coronavirus there cases soar to 2,951 and death toll hits 60 – while Trump announces ban for UK visitors too. Therefore the US is closed to all European visitors.

    And all Europe and Asia are either on a lockdown or are imposing travel restrictions, so will we in SVG take note? Now here is a thing! SVG Government may reduce the Departure US $40 Tax,……. for six months. Now it is only a proposal carse wah, we need the dosh dread! So don’t go dead pon we!

  4. Vincy in New York says:

    The government is playing “baby house” with cov-id 19.

    Close schools. Grenada and st. Lucia are planning to do so.

    Limit public gatherings .

    Imagine cutting departure tax at this time? Laughable!
    Curb nonessential travel.

    Prep the police on dealing with suspected cases and the public. Send out a memo to all members.

    Prep health care workers now. Alert them of a probable increase in working hours. No vacation time.

    Have a plan to close public places. Only allow pharmacies and supermarkets to remain open. Place limits on certain items.

    Prevention is better where there is no cure.

  5. Why the PM doing that, he is encouraging people to come there regardless.
    Is money more important than life Mr PM?

  6. We all know that the prime minister of st.vincent don’t care about vincentain it’s just all about the money than protecting or saving lives.

  7. Gonsalves is in a panic that he can’t meet his obligations. The virus spread is threatening to upstage his little con man scheme.

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