As St. Vincent and the Grenadines prepares to receive its first international flight in months amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves is urging visitors to obey the 24-hour quarantine while awaiting their test results.
Every person arriving in SVG this month must present a COVID-19 negative result of a PCR test taken within three days before arriving in SVG or will be administered one on arrival.
Persons tested on arrival in the country will have to self-isolate for 24 hours while awaiting the results of the test, which will be analysed locally.
“I want to say this: a number of our returning nationals may believe that when they go home, that as soon as they put down their bags, they must go on the road. The answer to that is no,” Gonsalves said on NBC Radio on Wednesday.
“… everybody will be given an order which is enforceable in law; an order, within the terms of the amendment of the Public Health Act with we passed on April 7.
“We are not joking on it because it is only fair and reasonable that if you come in, let’s say you are processed by 3 o’clock or some hour in the afternoon … well, just go home, cool out, have your dinner, rest up, have your breakfast and wait for the afternoon when you get your call within the 24-hour period as to whether you are positive or negative.”
American Airlines is scheduled to arrive in the country on Saturday, with a full flight of mainly Vincentians.
“And a large number of them are coming out of New York, though we know New York had been an epicentre, though it has receded, but still it has a lot of active COVID cases. We can’t shut ourselves perpetually out from the world,” the prime minister said.
He said that it is better that arriving persons have a COVID-19 test done within three days of arriving in SVG.
“The reason why this is important is that you avoid waiting in a line when you come to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, at the airport…”
“I want the world to go out. We’d like you to take the PCR test in the United States or wherever you are coming from up to three days before or you can take a rapid [test], but it’s a particular rapid and the specifications are in the protocol and that protocol has been published and that protocol is online.”
Gonsalves said that this month is, essentially a “dry run, but a run from which we have to learn.
“Remember we are all in uncharted territory but even though we are in uncharted territory, you have to plan,” he said, referring to the protocols and their practical application.
The prime minister said he met, on Tuesday, with the ministers of health and finance, the director general of finance and planning, the chief medical officer, the medical officer of health, the permanent secretary in the ministry of health and other health officials, officials from the ministry of technology, the commissioner of police and deputy commissioner of police, the comptroller of customs, the chief immigration officer, head of the Tourism Authority, and Government Printery staff.