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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. (File photos by Lance Neverson/Facebook)
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. (File photos by Lance Neverson/Facebook)
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The 14-day mandatory quarantine in a government-approved facility for all persons arriving in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, including those who live alone, is intended to help keep out the UK and Brazil variants of the virus.

This is according to information provided by Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves at a Ministry of Health press conference on Thursday.

At the press conference, a journalist said that some returning nationals have complained about the high cost of the 14-day quarantine at government-approved facilities, particularly when they have adequate facilities at their own home.

There returning nationals have to pay for a 14-day quarantine even as persons who test positive for quarantine in SVG are allowed to isolate at home.

In many instances, COVID-19 positive persons “isolate” in homes that do not meet the standard: for instance, those that only have a single bathroom, that must be shared by the COVID patient and the other residents.

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“Every single country in this world imposes restrictions on persons coming into their country — every single one,” Gonsalves said in response to the question.

He said that some countries in the CARICOM region began by paying for persons to go in quarantine in hotels.

“St. Lucia did that, Jamaica did that. They have to back away from it,” the prime minister said.

He noted that the United Kingdom has a “red list” of countries, arriving passengers from which must quarantine in a government-approved hotel.

“And the cost of it for the 10 days, which they’re giving, is 1,750 pounds sterling,” Gonsalves said, adding that to get the Eastern Caribbean dollar equivalent, the number has to be multiplied by in excess of three.

He added that London recently passed a statutory rule and order, under which a person who lie about their country of original departure could be fined up to 10,000 pounds and jailed for up to 10 years.

“This is Britain you know,” Gonsalves said, adding, “Well, my own view of that is that that sounds disproportionate but that is what they themselves that they have determined.

“There is a variant in the United Kingdom, which is already in St. Lucia and in Barbados. There is a variant from South Africa, from Brazil. The world is one place. Even if you have a negative PCR, as we have seen coming from outside, you don’t know whether at the moment when you land, you don’t have COVID because between the time when you get the negative PCR 72 hours [earlier] to the time when you land in St Vincent, you have interactions. You don’t live on Mars,” the prime minister said.  

“And what the health authorities have advised, they would want to make sure that that particular — those variants, which are very difficult, very challenging, that we keep them out as far as is practicable and that it is easier to contain what you have internally than if you what you bring in from outside, from an epidemiological standpoint.”

The prime minister also responded to persons who are critical of his government’s position on quarantine for arriving passengers, including persons who test negative for COVID-19, even as positive residents of the country are sent home to “isolate”.

“You know what I find inconsistent with those persons who make that argument? Some of them are the same persons who say you must lock the borders. So you must lock the borders, don’t allow people to come in but if you insist on quarantining those who come in, that that is a problem,” the prime minister said.

“So what you must do, you must provide quarantining for all Vincentians in a state facility where you have who have COVID in St. Vincent and the Grenadines if persons don’t see the rationale and the judgment and the proportionality there, well, then I can’t help,” Gonsalves added.  

He said that he has seen people talking about inquiring about the policy in a court.

“What that policy has to do with an inquiry in a court? If you want to go to the High Court, to see whether a restriction of that nature is reasonably required for the purpose of protecting the health of the country, and that it is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society, well go to the High Court to a constitutional motion,” said Gonsalves, who is a lawyer.

“And I would like to see if there is a judge of reasonable temper, who would say that those restrictions are reasonably required for the protection of health and that they are not reasonably justifiable in a democratic society,” he said.  

He added:

“I just give a broader scope of what is happening regionally and nationally, I mean, globally, and talk about the British one. What all that is about, I’m telling you, persons who want for other agendas, other reasons, to be carrying out these arguments. I don’t think the argument has any reasonable merit. And until I’m advised to the contrary by the public health officials, those regulations remain in place.”

13 replies on “PM defends gov’t decision to quarantine C-19 negative persons while positives go home”

  1. Urlan Alexander says:

    I have never heard so much foolishness in one place for a while. Money is driving the decision to put people in hotels at such a high cost, Sending persons home who came from overseas to isolate and sending others to hotels to pay exorbitant sums is not sensible at all. This sounds more like discrimination. You can dance on the head of a pin comrade your explanation just doesn’t cut it,
    And as usual you want to tell the court how to deal with the issue. Watch a fella eh?

  2. The pm is gonna tie up everything in “the law” to hide his dishonesty and double standards. That’s why Vincy remains the laughing stock of the Caribbean..a pm who hides behind the” law of the land “when it suits him. Here’s a reminder Mr pm, you can’t fool people forever.

  3. Cecelia Haynes says:

    Comrade, please note that the virus mutates, and are found in persons with no travel history. So it’s just a matter of time before it could be there.

  4. Kami Commissiong says:

    Eh ben. That’s not what he said. You didn’t read this article properly at all. He said that persons within SVG are sent home not persons coming from outside SVG. The reason to control the importation of the mutations of the Sars Cov 19 virus. Quite plausible if you ask me and so is his explanation concerning a legal challenge. No government controls the court. The court has ruled against the governments in our region so many times you can’t even count the number of decisions. Agendas Agendas. Just take a regional and global scan. This is not unique to SVG. If persons don’t wish to pay. Then stay put. Poor jab you.

  5. Urlan, I strongly with your comment. . Some people are very cruel and traitorous. evil and wicked. their dying days will tell on them.

  6. The outmost priority is to vaccinate the people immediately starting with the most vulnerable.
    When all the required population is vaccinated, then all the talk becomes irrelevant and the borders can be more welcoming to visitors and nationals for trade and tourism.

  7. As I say saint Vincent is getting out of hand and Mr Gonzales what you are saying that the UK us charging so much pounds for its visitors. You all is getting out of hand. The country is getting infected with the virus because you are sending the positives home to their families who might have only one bedroom and one bath room. Make some sense foolish people. Last year December you only had few infected, now you all have hundreds. Wake up saint Vincent people you all are going to lose tourists. When I read what the writer is saying you make my blood boil to see doltishness happening in beautiful saint Vincent. Pray you all or there wont be anyone left in saint Vincent if this virus get there with force. Here in the us you pray that iT pass you by. Amen and amen..

  8. If the CDC says that quarantine can be cut back to 10 days, why are you making it 14 days for incoming travelers? Just say that it is an economical decision as to why you are forcing negative tested persons to quarantine in a hotel for longer than 10 days. The hypocrisy of it all. In addition, to have a resident self-quarantine at home and know that they do not have adequate space to isolate, is negligence on the gov’t part. Are you truly trying to contain/eliminate the virus or spread it and eliminate the people? Are you trying to get the country back to a higher economical stance so that people can get back to work or are you not caring about the out of work economy and only caring about your pockets? There needs to be a balance.

  9. Kittana Albert says:

    These people wants to go home and quarantine but they are not staying put they going all over the place and having people come over can’t be trusted unless government can provide
    Some security to make sure they stays in and no visitors .

  10. SVG’s Covid-19 policies have become more and more ad hoc, off the cuff, without rhyme or reason. If the PM is making these decisions and not the professionals we will be in for additional trauma. The PM has no training whatever to make these decisions.
    But even those decisions with which he has experience I question whether he is slipping: Few months ago he made a decision to punish Haitians travelling to SVG because he said Haiti’s situation was out of control. However we now have 6 deaths from Covid-19 in SVG. If Haiti had deaths at the same rate as SVG they would have 660 deaths as they have a population 110 times the size of ours. BUT Haiti has a Covid death toll of 240. Our rate is much higher than Haiti’s.
    So I have to wonder from whence came such twisted anti-Haiti policy?

  11. If the Gov’t had ensured that hotels for quarantine were operating on strict quarantine measures, then there my some merit to this policy. However, measures have been lax leading to the severe community spread. Over 1450 cases is such a small island is a disgrace! What confidence would anyone have in hotels that failed to enforce safety protocols? Why should any returning national who tests negative & has the ability to self-isolate in his/her own home pay to stay in a high risk hotel? The Gov’t has failed miserably in handling this pandemic.

  12. What I gathered from most of the reasonable discussions with respect to the need for quarantine is that most people find it unfair that some are allowed to quarantine at home an others are not so lucky. The policy should not apply on a haphazard basis where party supporters are and favourites can quarantine at home while the less unfortunate must go to a hotel. If that’s the case where is the natual justice and procedural fairness?

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