Vincentians are being encouraged to avoid leaving home and taking public transport unless absolutely necessary amidst a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Twenty-eight local cases of the viral illness have been detected in St. Vincent and the Grenadines since Dec. 28, 2020.
This has triggered discussions about public transportation in the country, where private owners provide this service using omnibuses generally with an 18- to 26-seat capacity.
“If you want to reduce your risk of exposure to someone who might have COVID-19, we go back to the same old advice we have been giving from day 1 and every time we speak, we keep saying the same thing:
“Distance yourself as much as possible. If you don’t need to leave the house, please don’t leave,” Dr. Roger Duncan, medical officer of health told a virtual press conference on Tuesday.
“If you are going to leave, please wear a mask or some facial covering. Sanitise your hands regularly and keep your distance.”
Duncan said that these are the practices and that these practices would help to keep persons safe and reduce the risk of exposure to someone with COVID-19.
He said that the Ministry of Health is continuing to have some conversations in terms of the number of people in minibuses.
“But these are some considerations that all of us need to consider,” Duncan said.
“If you are going to use public transport, then you make sure you, one, you must wear a mask and minibus operators should insist that every passenger who enters a bus wears a mask and have their hands sanitised.”
Duncan said that distancing is going to be extremely difficult as it relates to minibus occupancy.
“We know that people use the minibus for getting to work and going through their basic life activities. So as far as you possibly could, you would want to try and distance yourself as much as possible. But the key thing, wear your mask, sanitise your hands and if you really don’t have to take a bus that day, don’t take a bus,” Duncan said.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Vincentian Transportation Association (VINTAS) noted to the public that the wearing of masks on public transportation “is not only strongly recommended but is rather warranted to reduce further community spread.
“All operators of public transportation are also advised to adhere to relevant protocols issued by the authorities including but not limited to the constant wearing of masks and frequent sanitisation,” the advisory said.