The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines secured and served on the entire group of American Airlines passengers who arrived in the country on Saturday, court orders of mandatory quarantine.
“The aim of the 14 days (the time it usually takes for the development of symptoms and the increased likelihood of a positive test for COVID-19) of quarantine is to protect the entire population in St. Vincent and the Grenadines by reducing the contacts of an individual who may have been exposed to COVID-19,” Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Simone Keizer-Beache said in a statement on Saturday.
She added: “Reducing contacts has been shown to be key in reducing spread –our shared responsibility.”
Additionally, effective Saturday, March 28, all arriving passengers who meet the quarantine requirement will be required to sign an “Undertaking to Quarantine” form issued by the Ministry of National Security, Air and Seaport Development, Keizer-Beache said.
“Any breach of this undertaking will result in appropriate action under the Laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” she further stated.
The statement added:
“All persons previously instructed to be under quarantine are reminded that the instruction is mandatory and any breach may result in imprisonment and or a fine.”
Searchlight newspaper said that it had obtained a copy of the form, which demanded that nationals and non-nationals of SVG surrender their passports, which will be returned to the holders upon compliance with the quarantine and all health protocols during the 14-day period.
The developments come as the government continues its efforts to prevent the importation of new cases of COVID-19 even as it keeps the nation’s borders open.
On Friday, Minister of Health Senator Luke Browne said that the sole person to have tested positive for COVID-19 (on March 11) was negative on retesting.
He said that 31 persons have been tested and they were all negative.
The parliamentary opposition and some citizens have called for the immediate closure of the airports and seaports, something that the government has resisted.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told Parliament, on Thursday, that his government is prepared to do so, in a phased way, if the circumstances so warrant.
During that same meeting of the national assembly, Opposition Leader Godwin Friday reiterated his call for the closing of the nation’s borders, as many other Caribbean countries have done.
On Friday, the prime minister announced that he had ordered the closure of the ports of entry in Union Island, Canouan and Bequia after incidents with yachts and state officials.
On Saturday, the Police Force announced that the port of entry in Mustique had been closed also.
Meanwhile, in her press statement on Saturday, Keizer-Beache noted that Cabinet has mandated quarantine requirement for passengers arriving from China, the European Union (including Italy, the Overseas Departments of France (Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Martin, French Guiana), Iran, South Korea, United States of America (including USVI and Puerto Rico), Canada, and the United Kingdom.
She said that while in quarantine, persons should take the following steps:
- Do not leave home. Do not go to work, school, other public areas.
- Do not use public transportation.
- Arrange to have groceries and other necessities delivered.
- Stay in a separate room and if possible use a separate bathroom from others in the home.
- If you have to be in contact with others, stay at least three (3) feet apart, wear a mask and keep interactions short.
- Avoid contact with the elderly, persons with chronic diseases and pets.
- Do not allow visitors to the home.
- Wash hands often with soap and water and dry with a paper towel. Alcohol based hand sanitizers may also be used.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
- At least once daily, clean and disinfect surfaces that are touched often e.g. toilets, tables, doorknobs, phones, TV remotes. Use regular household disinfectants or diluted bleach to disinfect.
- Do not share personal items such as toothbrushes, bed linen, utensils or electronics.
- For items that cannot be cleaned, discard in a plastic lined.
- Put the lid of the toilet down before flushing.
- Get some rest, eat a balanced diet and stay in touch with others through telephone, email or social media.
- Monitor for the appearance of any symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) as instructed by your healthcare provider and immediately contact the COVID-19 Hotline (534-4325) if symptoms appear.
- If symptoms develop cough or sneeze into a tissue or the cuff of the elbow.
- Take paracetamol for fever. Do not take Advil or Ibuprofen.