Community spread of COVID-19 has been confirmed in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Minister of Health St. Clair “Jimmy” Prince made the announcement to the media on Friday, one day after Parliament approved an EC$1.2 million budget after four days of debate in which the pandemic was a recurring theme.
The minister’s announcement confirmed what many citizens had concluded for weeks amidst a massive spike in local cases since Dec. 28.
According to the World Health Organisation, said community transmission of COVID-19 is “evidenced by the inability to relate confirmed cases through chains of transmission for a large number of cases, or by increasing positive tests through sentinel samples (routine systematic testing of respiratory samples from established laboratories)”.
In making the announcement, Prince said that over the past few weeks, health officials have seen an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in SVG.
The latest numbers show a total of 1,170 cases confirmed in the country since March 2020, of which 142 were imported.
He said that 790 cases are active and 500 are under investigation.
Of all the cases confirmed in the country, 377 have recovered and three persons have died.
Prince said that based on the new information gained by the clearance of samples taken from the contacts of known cases as well as routine screening and testing of persons with flu symptoms, it has been determined that the country has moved into a phase of community transmission of COVID-19.
“The cases, as reported in our last release, are clustered into families and small social groups, including patrons of gambling sheds and rum shops,” Prince said.
“I take this opportunity to reassure you that this ministry will continue to take the appropriate measures aimed at reducing the transmission of COVID-19, and, therefore, the burden of disease on the health sector and the nation on a whole.
“I also implore us all to play our part in helping to mitigate further spread through infection prevention and control measures such as hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and physical distancing.
“Continue to be safe, stay virtually connected to friends and family, especially with those who are not within your immediate space. Community leaders, church leaders and other influential persons, we are expecting you to take the lead in this in helping to get the message across,” the health minister said.