The Honorable Prime Minister; Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves, in his address at the National Heroes Day ceremony in Dorsetshire Hill stated the following with respect to #COVID-19:
1. 20-25 additional Vincentian nurses will be hired to assist with active surveillance and management of #COVID-19.
2. The Republic of Cuba will support Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ active surveillance and management of #COVID-19 by sending 3 medical doctors and 12 nurses specializing in the management of infectious diseases.
3. The Republic of Cuba will provide 50 dosages of the drug Interferon. Interferons are a family of naturally-occurring proteins that are made and secreted by cells of the immune system (for example, white blood cells, natural killer cells, fibroblasts, and epithelial cells). Interferons boost the immune system response. An additional 50 dosages will be obtained through the OECS Pharmaceutical Procurement Program.
4. The Republic of China (Taiwan) will offer technical and other support given their success in their local management of #COVID-19.
5. Locally, a #COVID-19 hotline has been set up to report any signs and symptoms related to #COVID-19 and to facilitate professional guidance and effective responses. The hotline is 784-534-HEAL)4325.
6. Testing of samples is currently done at CARPHA in Trinidad and Tobago and will be extended to Barbados until the commissioning of the testing equipment in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
7. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is investing over US$2 million in materials and equipment for the management of #COVID-19.
8. The retrofitting of the isolation centre in Mt. Pleasant Argyle is expected to start over the weekend and will be able to accommodate 24 patients. There will be separate quarters for medical personnel.
9. All isolation facilities are expected to be fully operational by mid-April 2020.
10. There will be retrofitting of containers to serve as isolation and/or quarantine facilities if needed in the Grenadines.
With respect to management of the economy, the Prime Minister advised:
1. There will be meetings with merchants to advise against price gouging and the inherent legal implications given credible evidence.
Price gouging is a term referring to when a seller increases the prices of goods, services or commodities to a level much higher than is considered reasonable or fair, and is considered exploitative, potentially to an unethical extent.
2. On items that promote personal hygiene and as advised by the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment, the Prime Minister announced that all import taxes, levies and VAT will be reduced to zero.
3. The reduction of departure tax by 50% will be considered to encourage travel within the CARICOM. Hoteliers will be encouraged to share specials for CARICOM nationals.
4. The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour is working with the Ministry’s team to finalize the “SVG Corona Virus – Food Security and Impact and Mitigation Plan”.