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Promoters have been ordered to cancel their event and churches have been advised to observe physical distancing or go virtual this New Year’s Eve into the weekend, as health officials try to trace and contain a cluster of local spread of COVID-19.

The development comes as the Health Services Subcommittee of the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO), on Thursday, confirmed another COVID-19 case related to the recent cluster of local spread, bringing the total to six.

A second new case confirmed on Thursday is an adult who arrived from the United Kingdom on Dec. 27, tested negative on arrival but tested positive on Dec. 29.

All positive cases are isolated until cleared by two negative tests.

SVG has recorded 121 cases of COVID-19, 98 of which have recovered and 23 are active.

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“Intensive contact tracing has identified in excess of 125 contacts of these positive cases. Aggressive testing and quarantining by the COVID-19 Taskforce team are on-going aimed at the containment of the local spread of COVID-19 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” NEMO said in a statement.

The development has resulted in Commissioner Police Colin John announcing a ban on amplified music in public places or private places to which the public has access.

John, in a statement, on Thursday — New Year’s Eve — said that the recommendation is to allow for the required intensive contract tracing, testing and isolation or quarantining needed to contain the evolving cluster of local spread of COVID-19 cases in SVG.

He said that all mass events scheduled to take place between today, Dec. 31, 2020 and Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021 will be postponed to the weekend of Jan. 8 to 10, 2021, in the first instance.

“We acknowledge the significant inconvenience, and more, to the promoters and patrons caused by this ban and sincerely apologise for this unavoidable but necessary public health intervention,” the police chief said.
Meanwhile, speaking on NBC Radio, on Thursday evening, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, noted that John had acted on the advice of the Health Services Subcommittee of National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO).

He noted that the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Simone Keizer-Beache, heads the subcommittee.

“The police and the Health Services Subcommittee of NEMO and everyone really in authority, we are really asking for the cooperation of the promoters and the patrons,” said Gonsalves, who is also minister of national security.

“This is a necessary and desirable decision in respect of the health of the individuals and the nation and that the possibility opens itself for the events to be held next weekend, provided that everything is in order in terms that sufficient contract tracing has been completed and the like,” the prime minister said.

He, however, said that the Health Services Subcommittee would deal with that decision.

“And we sincerely regret the inconvenience, and more, because there would have been some expenses by the promoters. We regret really the inconvenience, and more, that this decision has brought about, but it is considered to be necessary and desirable from a health standpoint. 

“We have to be careful. It was not an easy decision to make but we have to accept the advice of the Health Services Subcommittee and particularly of the CMO, Dr. Keizer-Beache and the Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Roger Duncan.

The development comes as many Christians are preparing for their final church service of the year, which is usually timed to end during the first hour of the New Year.

The prime minister said that the Health Services Subcommittee would be issuing a statement in relation to churches.

He, however, said:

“Many people go to church service on New Year’s Eve and, similarly, on Saturday, the Seventh-day Adventists and then on Sunday, other Christian denominations. And as far as practicable, we do the social distancing, and in case where you do the service online or you do it over the radio. We have been that road before and this is just being careful and prudent.”

Gonsalves said he had spoken to two of the major promoters of events that were scheduled for the holiday weekend.

“I think they understand. I haven’t gotten to all the promoters and those I haven’t gotten to, I hope they, too, will understand”.

He said that there are many ways in which residents of the country could enjoy themselves at home on New Year’s Eve.

“We have our families and our neighbours and we know how to do these things and we don’t have to have the amplified music and we don’t have to have the crowds — not tonight, not this weekend. Just as we did at Easter time, just cool it and just enjoy yourself quietly and we will see what the contact tracing does this week.”

The prime minister said that health officials want to give health workers “the chance to just pursue all the leads in respect of the contact tracing and the testing and we should give them the time.

“I don’t think that is unreasonable. Some places have been locked down, this is just a measure to assist the Ministry of Health with their contact tracing and to, at this moment, contain the spread of COVID-19…

“This particular moment, we have to let the proper contact tracing be done, and the Ministry of Health, the Heath Services Subcommittee, the chief Medical Officer, and the Medical Officer of Health, they have been doing quite a good job and we must listen to them and what they are asking is quite reasonable in the circumstances. 

“There is no need to panic. We ramp up when it is necessary and desirable to ramp up and we relax the regulation when that is also required. So this is just another stage in the process of dealing with COVID-19,” Gonsalves said.

“We have to live well with it and we have been doing good so far, with sensible application. And what they have advised the police to do in respect of these big events this evening, it’s a sensible application of the principle of having a balance –not being complacent, at the same time, not being hysteria, not overestimating, not underestimating; do things in a sensible, balanced manner.”

7 replies on “Mass events banned as local COVID-19 cluster reaches 6 cases”

  1. The old man says, Where one rat ran from a hole to count fifty or more in that hole. People please be extremely careful, covid is not a joke. what is very frightening is when some one is asymptomatic and the virus is being transmitted to others.

  2. Along with social distancing, I think that there should be no singing and the preacher should wear mask when speaking. As a matter of fact, everyone should wear a mask in church. What about the mini vans? Any physical distancing recommended?

  3. Although I am very critical of our Prime Minister’s philosophy toward economics and a few other areas, he does really well in other areas such as many aspects of Foreign Policy and this “pandemic”. of course my attitude is much different than most people’s, a leader is often forced to do things a certain way even though he would rather do the opposite. At present the US President has NO JURISDICTION when it comes to lock downs, masks and such, that is up to the state and city governments. and some have really messed things up! See how the UK has made a mess of things. We are lucky here in SVG. In the USA, Joe Biden has hinted he may usurp the power of all local governments and lock the entire country down and make masks mandatory in spite of what virtually ALL SCIENTIFIC STUDIES HAVE DISCOVERED. If you dare to research what is now known about the virus since it first appeared you will find that the SVG Health Officials ARE WAY BEHIND IN KNOWLEDGE! Or maybe they are just playing “monkey see monkey do” The Prime Minister is right. “There is no need to panic”. There are still some in SVG that are wetting their pants, believing we are all “gonna die”, from Covid-19. They have the freedom to take the experimental vaccine when the time comes but please do not force it upon me!
    It is a fact that almost always, more people die or become debilitated from the vaccine than the sickness they are getting vaccinated against.
    The best vaccine is always that which your body creates with its own antibodies.
    Those of you who remember Biology 101 and other science classes, will remember that the normal course of a virus is almost always to weaken so as to spread more. I cannot really remember why, but that is what happens. Even though, according to statistics we are far more likely to die from Heart Disease and many other things than we are to die from Covid-19, we still have to go along with many of these public requirements out of respect for those who are afraid. The elderly and obese and a few others with immune deficiencies should take precautions and MAYBE consider the vaccine. For myself, I do not want to have anyone inject an experimental cocktail into me…at this time. Anyone who wants to…Go for it! You have the freedom to hide in your basement out of fear, as long as you do not interfere with the rest of us.

  4. Here is a different perspective on the virus hysteria. Let’s hope the stupidity does not come to SVG! …or is it already here “genotypically” but not yet “phenotypically”?

  5. @Duke, I agree with most of what you said, in regards to social distancing, mas-wearing etc. I understand people’s concern regarding the Covid vaccine. I don’t think we should be making negative comments about the vaccine. Let people do their own research and make their devcision and not be frightened about other people personal options and propaganda.

    In regards to your own body’s protection, not everyone who’s had Covid produces antibodies, and the disease is too new to be able to understand how long someone who’s had Covid will have protection (if any).

    The government need to do more to reduce the spread, like banning crowds, mandatory mask-wearing every where. They should also ban flights from certain countries like USA & UK. It seems that a lot of people don’t understand the impact that Covid is having on the world, both on the loss of lives, economy, and the long-term effect of having Covid.

    We have to be extra careful, and pray that the strain in SVG is not the one currently spreading in the UK because this is infecting more people.

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