Member of Parliament for Central Kingstown, St. Clair Leacock. (iWN file photo)

An opposition lawmaker says Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves “is seriously underestimating the situation” as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Member of Parliament for Central Kingstown, St. Clair Leacock says that the government is, therefore, putting citizens’ lives at risk.

Leacock made the claim on radio, on Friday, saying he had done so based on public health and medical advice.

He said that his information is that as many as 50,000 Vincentians could be affected by deadly virus, 2,000 of which “will” lose their lives.

Gonsalves has said that general elections will be held by year end, ahead of the March 2021 constitutional deadline.

However, Leacock said he could not contemplate that happening, given the view that there should be a ban on mass gatherings.

Leacock said:

“It is clear that the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is seriously underestimating the situation at hand and is putting the lives of many Vincentians at risk over the days, weeks and months ahead.

Leacock, a vice-president of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), speaking on the party’s New Times programme on NICE Radio, said:

“And the level of preparation and aggression in that preparation that we are proceeding with doesn’t compare, at all, with what’s taking place in the international community and, I may dare say, in some regional jurisdictions as well.”

The lawmaker, who is into his second term as Member of Parliament for Central Kingstown, said he had been given “a public health brief, a medical brief by the most senior and authoritative medical source that we can come by in St. Vincent and the Grenadines”.

He did not identify that source, but said he had cross-referenced the information “outside of St. Vincent and the Grenadines even to the point of asking whether I should make the statement that I am going to make”.

Leacock said he had not been “as precise as I should have been” in his interpretation of the word “pandemic”.

He said that, like many people, he had interpreted it to mean that “this disease will be all over the world; none shall escape.

“I think what I didn’t include in my understanding is that it also means that millions will die…

“The forecast that has been presented to me with respect to St. Vincent as a country is that in our population of 100,000 — we say is 110[,000] — we could reasonably expect a low of 30,000 and perhaps a high 50,000 of all people will be affected by this pandemic.

“That’s nearly half of St. Vincent and the Grenadines [that] are going to be impacted one way and/or the other by the pandemic.”

The opposition member added:

“The projections, also, and because of the responsible nature of what is being provided and the source, not less than 2,000 Vincentians will lose their lives in this exercise, in this pandemic.”

Leacock said sources in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and in SVG had told him “that we need to bring an end, immediately, to all of the public gatherings…

“And it is most unlikely in the circumstances that we will even be able to contemplate a general election in this year because of the nature of mass gatherings.”

The NDP, which had been holding a series of village meetings across the country, suspended the events after SVG confirmed its sole case of COVID-19 on March 11.

Leacock said his comments were “not scaremongering”.

“We have to err on the side of caution and safety and wellbeing of our people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

He noted that the United States was closing its borders, adding that he understood the “flexibilities” of SVG have to have a “mechanism to let things in and let things out…

“… but it clearly has to be within parameters and good judgment,” Leacock said.

“We cannot send the signal of open sesame that we are ‘Hairoun. Land of the Blessed’ and nothing will become of us. This is gravely and deadly serious and there is historical evidence of what is taking place here where millions upon millions of people have lost their lives before.”

He continued:

“So, every facet of Vincentian life is already being impacted and will be impacted in a way that the historians, perhaps, will not want to write about. It’s frightening and I’m not apologising. We must start in our homes now, every Vincentian; do everything within our powers to cleanse, disinfect and sanitise our surroundings… the washing of hands with soap, keeping our distances, keeping away from church services, from funerals — from meetings of any and every kind. We cannot take it lightly.”

Leacock said there was already “an acute shortage of personal protective equipment, which more than likely, we will not resolve.

“My information is that even where you have situation where people have to go and be ventilated … it is more than likely that even as much as 70% of those people will lose their lives.

“The margin of survival will be very small, much more so to those who don’t even (indiscernible) stage where you consider as virtually certain death.

“I am prepared to stand on record as having obeyed the medical instruction and the public health warnings.”

Leacock said that in light of the “gravity” of his statement, “the people in the public health services of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in the medical community, must be called out, because they owe a duty of care to all Vincentians to let the science reign and let political expediency take a distant backseat at this time so that we can go to work to protect the lives, the limb of Vincentians now and generations unborn.

“This is no time for chest thumping, politicking, one man up and who is good and who is bad and who is brave and who is better or best at risk-taking.” 

Speaking on a “tangential” matter, Leacock said he had been invited by the government to a meeting at 10 p.m. Friday to discuss the design of a new House of Assembly building for which EC$10 million had been obtained from Taiwan.

“We are calling a meeting to discuss the design of a parliament building for which we may not live long enough to occupy. Before we meet as a group of parliamentarians, collectively, in the best interest of what’s good for St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the letter and law of [calypsonians] Ipa, ‘Put country before party, dispense with NDP, ULP (Unity Labour Party) and say we are speaking with unions, with one voice going forward at this time, but we’re looking down the road — political office and accommodation. How sad! It’s an indictment on the divisiveness.”

Leacock said that Vincentian physician Dr. Douglas Slater, who is at the CARICOM Secretariat, is a public health administrator who has significant years of experience and a former minister of health.

He mentioned also the chief medical officer, public officers, Medical Association, and the Bar Association as stakeholders who “must now be in the vanguard and let their voices be heard, and not speaking, after the fact,  of those who have not demonstrated that well holding realms of a political office, they can put people and country before self and party. 

“We are into perilous times, serious times. Everybody must take maximum care at this time to protect themselves and their family,” Leacock said.

Leacock had prefaced his comments by saying he was speaking having had a conversation with opposition leader Dr. Friday.

“And I’m leaving room for him to do this in even greater detail than I would and in an even more profound way than I would but I gave a solemn undertaking to the source of the information that I would follow through with what I’m going to say now as a public policy,” Leacock said.

“And I urge the people of Central Kingstown and all of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to weigh in heavily on what I say now as the representative for Central Kingstown and a member of the Parliament of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”

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17 Comments

  1. We should not panic yet. Most of the region still does not really have this virus. SO FAR, the PM has been doing well with this crisis, except that he was out there encouraging travel and large gatherings, (not recommended). In spite of our PM addressing this appropriately so far, he has to be ready to put the country into lock-down as soon as it gets reported that someone was out and about with this virus. Of course Leacock is correct in saying all large gathering should be banned at this time, just in case there is someone “out and about” but not yet showing symptoms. If we get the strain that is infecting Italy right now we will be in big trouble!

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  2. The problem is the fat man is so stupid that he thinks if NDP say turn left, he will turn right.

    He thinks because Cuba gave him a stock of anti-viral, for ULP hierarchy only anti-viral medicine, he will stay alive and well. He will not, he, his, wife, family, and dynasty will be among the first to contract it because they are persistent and nonsensically excessive travellers.

    When Cuba home fried Chavez with radiation, most of us knew it was the end for him.

    This may well be the end for fatty, the Lord works in miraculous ways.

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    1. Is it really necessary to call the PM names? Surely you can have your say without being derogatory.
      What does that say about your character?

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    2. Kittana Albert says:

      How can u call the PM fat and stupid u r only disrespecting and letting yourself down. .this is not a time to fight and call names it’s a time to take a. real reality check pray and seek God’s face for your life depends on it mines Mines and others as well may God have mercy on us all

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  3. Leacock want to get notice. He dont understand that he might be one of the first to contact the virus. Go ahead and fight , god have something waiting for you all.

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    1. Monica, I am very disappointed that someone with such an exotic name as yours would be so unladylike and rude. I have never heard him say anything bad about you, never. So why must you be so rude, you should be thanking him for his wise advice and real love of Vincentian people.

      Perhaps an apology would be forthcoming from you, lets wait and see if you really are a nice lady or not.

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  4. Concerned Citizen says:

    I pray that the Good Lord will protect us from this pandemic, but I am a strong believer in the wisdom of protecting ourselves proactively and and not reactively. It is certainly not scare mongering to say that unlike storms which have bypassed us and damaged others locally we can expect that this pandemic will do likewise. We must prepare on the basis that what we know about the numbers currently affected by this virus here is likely to be like the tip of an iceberg with its large mass concealed from sight. Other countries have not fared well, underestimating the magnitude of the problem facing them from this virus, so we should not bury our collective heads in the sand, and follow their example. We simply do not have the resources to cope with even a small number of our citizens becoming infected with this virus much less a widespread contagion like what is happening elsewhere. We have to begin planning for the worst and thank the Lord after if our well laid plans were not needed. We need to purchase and stockpile as much protective suits for our nurses and doctors as we can even if we have to borrow to do so, this as well as accelerating building of quarantine facilities, getting all the required testing infrastructure that will be required, banning all large gatherings of our citizens immediatelly, closing all non essential food outlets excepting for strictly controlled take out facilities, bars where large amount of people attend at any one time, these are just minimal advocations and will need to be extended as the need arise. For those who would quite rightly say that this would negatively affect our small economy, I will agree, but also point out that will be better to be broke than dead. We are going to have a uphill struggle financially for the forceable future anyway, because of reduced tourism, higher cost of needed imported goods, business closures, joblessness, increased crime resulting from some of the above, you name it and we will quite possibly experience it. If the chattering classes feel that this is a doom and gloom scenario been painted then ask them to look at what is happening in more advanced economies abroad. We really need to move away from the “no problem” mentality and begin implementing strategies geared towards our survival over the next few years. Tell the people the harsh truth of what is likely to befall us and we may have a chance of seeing the light of this very dark tunnel. Here is a bit of doom and gloom which I hope does not come to pass, LIAT is likely to go under.
    I am writing this at 3 am under poor lighting, so please forgive any spelling or mistakes in grammar.

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  5. Patrick Doyle says:

    I am a former resident in your country. I love it and your people. You have many tourists. If you don’t go into immediate effective lockdown, many lives will be lost.

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  6. The Corana pandemic is a serious health threat. The guidelines for handling this virus are stringent. These are perilous times. Scores of people are dying. Countries that can’t do the test or have enough test or don’t have enough IC hospital beds and medical staff should be very wary of this. The best way to limit or control the spread is by obeying the guideline the authorities set. I hope the people are properly informed about this pandemic. What are the symptoms, What to do incase. –good luck every body.–

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  7. Kittana Albert says:

    Talking about mas Gatherings They need to cancel carnival that’s huge and just so u know Mr Leacock. Men’s heart will fail them because of fear and the expectation of the things which are coming on the earth,for the powers of the heaven shall be shaken Luke 21:26 What we look for we will surely Get.
    What I strongly believe is that the leaders of the nations of the world need to do is to come together without bickering and fighting and Pray and seek the face of God that God may have mercy on us all .

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  8. Though a sizeable number of persons here are taking the coronavirus situation situation very seriously, as evidenced by their buying lots of foodstuffs etc, many persons here are still not taking this matter seriously. Some feel that SVG is too blessed to suffer much from the coronavirus. This attitude is irresponsible and foolish. Tourists are coming in on yachts in Chateaubelair, Cumberland, Wallilabou, and possibly elsewhere without being examined. Once recently I saw a tourist lady sneezed in her hand, and with that same hand she held on to a bus door handle to open and go in the bus. Who knows if she had sneezed while around a table in the restaurant she was leaving from. She most likely would have touched the table, chair, and other items. If she had the coronavirus you can see how easily it can spread to others who touch these items. Many need to get far more serious. We hope not but SVG may be in for a big big shock later on.

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  9. Carlita Andrews says:

    The PM needs to act now before it gets out of control lock down all sea ports and air travel except for cargo ships bringing food to the country this virus don’t care if you are NDP, ULP or Labour all vincentian need to take a good look at the world and do the right thing

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    1. You are of course quite right Carlita. But if you look at it how perhaps he is looking at it. I say perhaps because I do no know if he is acting out of stupidity or if he is trying to help our NHS clear the pension and payment line for old people. If they can get rid of a few old people prematurely it will be a huge saving for the NIS. It will reduce the hand outs and reduce the overall numbers in SVG.

      You have to think about it carefully, the NIS has been forking out for government projects for years now, funds must be getting low. Perhaps it all adds up when you think about it.

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    2. I think extreme measures are premature at this time. To shut down the entire economy for a country that already has a failing economy, and only one case, would be doing even more harm. We are already begging for the world to give us money. Think about Iran or Italy. Even those areas where everyone is “locked-in” are reporting many dead. People will still have to get food and other things. Maybe a better precaution at this time is require everyone to wear masks and gloves and broadcast safety measures over the media. If we shut down the entire economy prematurely it will only make things worse and we will still get sick.
      The real question may be:
      DO WE HAVE ACCURATE TESTING FOR THIS VIRUS YET? At this time our health system trys to ascertain if a suspected person has multiple symptoms before they examine closer. However, it is reported that many that are infected may not show any symptoms right away!
      Carnival will probably have to be cancelled because our present policy is that anyone coming from the USA, the UK and many other places will have to spend weeks in quarantine, and cases are now being reported from other Caribbean nations. NO! the nation should not be shut down at this time, however mass gatherings and travel should be discouraged and I am sure our PM has plans to lock-down the country if and when the virus reaches us. If he does not, he would face world condemnation.

      Reply

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