Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. (File photo)

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has sent a stern warning to persons who are in quarantine but are moving about in public, putting other persons at risk of the deadly coronavirus — COVID-19.

“And if you do not say in quarantine, if you are voluntarily quarantined — voluntary quarantine doesn’t mean you can walk in and walk out.

“It is an option which is given to you in certain circumstances, but you have to stay there,” Gonsalves said on Wednesday in a national address on his government’s response to the pandemic.

One case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Cabinet has decided that all travellers who arrive in St. Vincent and the Grenadines having been in a number of countries within the previous 15 days will be quarantined for 14 days.

The countries are Iran, South Korea, United States of America, including the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) and Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, the European Union, including Italy and the Overseas Departments of France (Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Martin, French Guiana), and Canada.

Such persons are expected to remain at home and self-isolate for 14 days.

However, members of the public have complained that persons who should be in quarantine are seen in public places, including places of entertaining during the period of quarantine, thereby putting other persons at risk of contracting COVID-19.

In his address Wednesday night, Gonsalves said that his government is keeping under constant review, especially at this time, the security situation in SVG.

“Any immediate, significant threat, additionally, to our citizen security would be met with further appropriate actions. I give that solemn assurance,” said Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance.

“Indeed, our government has already been firm on those who break a voluntary quarantine,” he said, adding that persons who act in that way are    taken to court and compulsorily quarantined with a specific legal sanction and under the security of the police. 

“Indeed, four such quarantine orders were sought of, and obtained from, the law courts today,” Gonsalves said, adding that it was not the first time that the legal powers of the state have been so exercised. 

The Kingstown Magistrate’s Court, on Monday, ordered that one person be quarantined, and in early March, the Serious Offences Court granted an order pursuant to the Public Health Act, 1977 for the isolation of persons exposed to infections, that 15 persons, all of whom had what appear to be Chinese names, be quarantined for 14 days.

On Wednesday, Gonsalves said:

“If you are quarantined, I want you to listen to me, you stay in quarantine; this is a serious matter.”

He further said:

“If you leave it, we will take you to the law courts and we will have a compulsory order issued. I don’t want to ask people to be snooping about individuals who break the quarantine but I want you to inform the police or the health authorities of anybody who has so broken the quarantine so that we can address the matter.”

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