Deputy Commissioner of Police Frankie Joseph has tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in Commissioner of Police Colin John and other senior ranks being placed in quarantine.
The development, on Thursday, is the latest as it relates to the local spread of the virus, for which 28 nationals with no recent travel history have tested positive.
At least five police officers tested positive for the virus earlier this week, amidst widespread testing within the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force.
The constabulary now joins the Ministry of Health as the second government department or agency whose senior leadership is in quarantine as a result of the novel coronavirus.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Health announced that Minister of Health, Jimmy Prince, Permanent Secretary, Cuthbert Knights, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Simone Keizer-Beache as well as two members of the administrative staff of the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment have been advised, out of an abundance of caution, to quarantine for a period of five days ending Saturday, Jan. 9.
The advice was “based on contact tracing initiated during the evening of Tuesday Jan. 5, after the receipt of a positive COVID-19 PCR result by a relative of a staff member of the ministry”, a press statement said.
The police force announced, on Thursday, that “some members” had tested positive for COVID-19, but did not disclose the identity of any of the officers, or the fact that the police chief and other senior ranks were in quarantine.
The constabulary, however, said that the officers who have tested positive are in quarantine, having been directed to do so by the medical authorities.
“Meanwhile, contact tracing is being done with regards to the person(s) with whom these officers may have come into contact. All other protocols are being observed throughout the organization to mitigate further spread of the virus among the ranks and the public in general,” a press release said.
The measures include wearing of face masks, sensitisation or hand washing, physical distancing, and testing.
Further, members of the public visiting or doing business at any Police stations/units/departments must wear a face mask. The face mask must cover the nose and mouth and should remain in place for the duration of the visit.
Persons are also required to physical-distance by staying three to six feet apart at all times, and visitors to police departments must use the sanitization stations provided on entry to the compound/buildings.
The development on Thursday came as the Public Service Union called on the government to institute a shift system for public servants to mitigate against COVID-19 “crippling the delivery of critical public services”.
The PSU said it was fearful that the operations of the Public Service could be negatively affected if public servants were to contract COVID-19.
“If one officer in a department or ministry were to test positive for the coronavirus, this can result in the shutdown of that unit or department, crippling the delivery of critical public services.
“The Public Service Union is fearful that this situation will soon be manifested and is appealing to the Minister of Public [Service] to address the issue of instituting a shift system in the Public Service to mitigate against such an eventuality.”