Leader of the Opposition Godwin Friday says that disclosing the location of clusters of COVID-19 cases could help to stem the spread of the illness in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“You are doing your normal contact, your normal business, going about your life in the normal way and you become infected and, heaven forbid, that you become ill. This is something that can affect anybody.
“And so the excess, or the interest in the privacy issue is overblown because we have to ensure that we have the public measures in place to protect the community and, in this case, information is one of our most important weapons against the virus because then people can do all of the things that are necessary to protect themselves, to avoid the locations where the spread has been identified and so that way protect themselves and protect others,” Friday said on radio last week.
He said some people who suspected or learned that they were at a place or event and a person who was also there later tested positive, have taken steps to protect themselves and others by going into quarantine or presenting themselves to be tested.
“Because then, that person would know … if they are carrying the virus or not and protecting themselves, the other members around them. That’s how we have to become more aggressive in preventing the spread thought-out the country.”
The opposition leader was speaking amidst an upsurge in COVID-19 cases among residents of SVG who have no recent travel history.
Health officials have said that they would not describe the current situation as community spread and objected to that label when it was used by the World Health Organisation, which has since reverted to “sporadic clusters”.
Friday said that health authorities had identified “a number of clusters, as they have called them…
“I think the ministry; they talk a lot and don’t say enough — that is the problem — to reassure people as to what is going on. Information is needed to know how is the contact tracing going, what resources are there, who are doing it, how effective they are in covering the areas that they have identified as sources.
“If they give people the impression that they have it all under control, somebody has tested positive in an area then we have done the contract tracing in that area, we have covered it, we have identified anybody who could possibly be infected, then some people will lower their guard…” he said.
“And that is what the virus wants. Whenever you let your guard down, it takes advantage of the normal things that we enjoy as human interaction, socialising and talking to people and greeting and so forth; that’s what it preys on.
“We have to be a lot more aggressive in pursuing any possible source of the spread and information is key in doing that. And so, the more information people have in protecting themselves, the better it is, from a public health standpoint,” the opposition leader said.