Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves is standing by his government’s policy of sending local COVID-19 patients to their home to isolate while they recover.
The policy has come in for some criticism, especially in light of the fact that all persons who arrive in the countries have to quarantine at a government-approved facility.
Persons arriving in St. Vincent and the Grenadines have to pay for this 14-day quarantine even if they test negative before and on arrival in the country and even if they live alone or can properly quarantine or isolate at home.
At a press conference last week, Gonsalves said that all persons arriving in the country are sent into quarantine in an effort to keep the COVID-19 variants out of the country.
But iWitness News pressed for an explanation of the reasons why locals who test negative are sent home to isolate, in some instances, in houses where the ideal isolation arrangements cannot be undertaken.
“The fact of the matter is this: … there are a small number of homes in this country, where you may have a problem with somebody who’s positive, where they cannot be properly quarantined away from others, and who may be particularly vulnerable,” the prime minister said.
“You may be positive, you are not sick in the sense of having to be hospitalized or having to go in isolation,” Gonsalves said.
He said that in those circumstances, his government has made 30 rooms available for persons to go.
The rooms are located at a guesthouse leased by the government and are intended for persons who are positive but do not require hospitalisation but cannot properly isolate at their home.
Persons who move into these rooms have to provide their own meals.
Gonsalves said that, to the best of his knowledge, at the time, there were six persons at the guesthouse.
“See, the fact of the matter is, in the year 2001, the census shows that you had about 30,000 households in St. Vincent and the Grenadines with about four persons, close to four persons on average to each household.
“By 2012, you had 36,000 plus households, three persons per household, on an average, and since 2012, on my calculation, there is an estimate of about another 5,000 houses which have been built. So that you have on an average I will say 2.7 maybe 2.8 persons, per house,” he said.
Gonsalves said that the statistics as they relate to cases by age groups are “very interesting”.
He noted that, at the time, 173 persons ages 15 to 24 had tested positive for COVID, 237 persons ages 25 to 34 and 206 persons of those ages 35 to 44.
“Well, there is no report that any person in any of these age groups has gotten very sick. So what these persons have to do is that when they are in households, they make arrangements inside of the households to quarantine, isolate themselves from persons who may be older and more vulnerable,” the prime minister said.
“And if you look at the numbers, 55 to 64 age group, there are 98; 65 to 74 –62; 75 to 84 — 13; 85 to 94 — six 6; 85 to 110 – three,” Gonsalves said.
“In short, the bulk of the COVID cases are between persons between the ages of 15 and 44. That is what this data show. In the individual households, there is enough space for persons to properly quarantine, but you have to take responsibility inside there. It is not practical to put everybody who is tested positive in a hotel, or in a government facility.
“First of all, a lot of people not gonna want to go. And you’re not going to be able to compel them because we have a place now where you can have 30 in two places, but you only have six, because people don’t want to go. They prefer to quarantine in their own rooms and they can do so but they have to do it properly in accordance with the protocols.
“We have to be data-driven. We have to be scientifically driven and not be swayed by positions which don’t have as the basis of decision making, facts and science,” the prime minister said.