Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says that he sees a silver lining in the second case of COVID-19 confirmed in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in that people are willing to report persons breaking their quarantine.
On Wednesday, health officials announced that SVG had registered a second case of the deadly virus, three weeks after the first case was confirmed.
However, shortly after the announcement, persons began reporting that the woman who tested positive one week after she returned from the United States had been walking about in her rural village before she was tested.
She travelled to the village more than 20 miles away from Kingstown on Friday, two days after she arrived in the country.
On Thursday, a video emerged of a person wearing a mask, said to be the woman who tested positive, in a hardware store in Kingstown, apparently sometime before she came to the attention of health officials.
The woman came to the attention of the authorities after villagers informed a nurse, who called the COVID-19 hotline.
Speaking on WE FM on Thursday, Gonsalves said:
“Now, what is a good thing which has emerged from this case, to the extent that you always look for possible silver lining, … is that people in the community and people across the country are saying this person … was not careful enough and should have stayed in the quarantine.”
The prime minister said “not because the quarantine is voluntary, does it means that it is not mandatory because we can get a court order against you or you can decide that you want to stay in it. But you must stay in it.
“Even though you’re doing it of your freewill. In other words, it’s not optional because you do it voluntarily. You’re in quarantine, you’re in quarantine.
“And if there is one proverbial silver lining. Maybe that’s the better way in which to put it, that it’s a learning moment; a teaching and learning moment. Don’t break the quarantine.”
Gonsalves said that residents of SVG are “getting more and more sensitive about this; and sensible”.
He said that the chief medical officer had told him that on Wednesday there were fewer reports of persons breaking the quarantine.
He said that a very experienced justice of peace suggested that the list of persons in quarantine be sent to justices of the peace to help with the reporting of persons breaching their quarantine.
He said that the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Simone Keizer-Beache suggested to the Cabinet Secretary Kattian Barnwell-Scott not to give the whole list of persons who are on quarantine, to every justice of the peace.
“Give those to the particular Justices of the Peace who are in the area, where those persons come from so that they can focus their attention on those whom they will know,” the prime minister said.
The government had announced 14-days voluntary quarantine for persons who arrive in SVG 14 days after leaving a country where there is community spread of COVID-19.
However, last week Saturday, the government obtained court orders for mandatory 14-day quarantine of 80 persons arriving on a flight from the United States.
SVG recorded its second case on the same day that it received medical clearance that the first case, a woman who tested positive after returning from the United Kingdom — had recovered.