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The opposition New Democratic Party is calling on the government to provide financial support to van operators in an effort to promote compliance with the new COVID-19 rules.

For one month, beginning last Saturday, vans are now permitted to carry only one half of the number of persons they are licensed to transport.

This as the government has passed a number of rules, punishable by fines, in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in SVG.

“The government must also provide financial support to van operators to promote compliance with the public transportation restrictions and to ensure the critical service they provide will continue,” the NDP said in a statement this week.

The NDP also repeated its call for stricter measures to secure the country’s borders including restricting flights and boats coming into SVG for a period of 28 days, with exception for nationals returning home and for necessary commerce.

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“We also continue to call on everyone to follow the protocols and to be responsible in this time of crisis.  Because of the highly contagious nature of COVID-19, we have an obligation to one another to do all we can to combat its spread,” the NDP said.

“We must continue to wash or sanitise our hands regularly, practice physical distancing and wearing of masks when in public, and staying at home as much as we can,” the party said in a press statement.

Thirty new cases on Wednesday brought the number of local COVID-19 cases in SVG to 1,219, out of the total of 1,370 cases reported since March 2020.

The National Emergency Management Organisation said that 897 cases remain active, 467 persons have recovered, and six people have died as a result of COVID-19.

The number of local cases of the viral illness confirmed in SVG has skyrocketed since late December.

The NDP said that the “COVID-19 crisis” in SVG has worsen with each passing day, noting that over 1,300 cases have been confirmed, with the vast majority within the last six weeks.

“The government has been slow and indecisive in combatting the spread and, for no apparent good reason, even resisted characterising the outbreak as community spread.”

On Friday, the government confirmed that there is community spread of COVID-19 in SVG.

The NDP said that calls from the Leader of the Opposition Godwin Friday, and others for more effective measures such as mandatory wearing of masks in public and provision of more isolation facilities to assist persons with COVID-19 have been rejected out of hand and even ridiculed by members of the government.

“The recent announcement by the Ministry of Health to admit the reality of community spread and to make wearing of masks in public places mandatory and restrict the numbers of persons in public transport vehicles, rum shops and restaurants shows a reversal of the government’s position,” the NDP said.

It said that though late, the announcement is a step in the right direction as the measures, if properly enforced, can reduce the spread of the disease.  

“It is better to take the necessary measures now than to delay further and make the situation worse,” said Friday, who is also president of the NDP.

“The NDP cautions against the continued piece-meal, timid approach by the government to addressing the spiralling cases of COVID-19 and calls for a more decisive and proactive approach from the government,” the party said in its press statement.