Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines: On Wednesday 11th March 2020, St. Vincent and the Grenadines recorded its first confirmed case of Covid-19 infection. By Wednesday 6th January 2021 there were one hundred and forty-nine (149) reported cases of COVID-19, of which one hundred (100) have recovered and forty-nine (49) remain active.
Over the past week, there has been a rapid increase in the number of positive cases, many without recent travel history. On Wednesday 6th, SVG recorded 16 new cases.
Eleven (11) of those persons did not have a recent travel history. According to information from the Ministry of Health, this brings the total to twenty-eight (28) recent positive cases of persons who do not have a recent travel history. This means that those persons became infected from contact with persons within the community.
Further, the Minister of Health, the Chief Medical Officer and other senior officials of the Ministry of Health have entered quarantine as a precautionary measure after coming into contact with a person who tested positive for the coronavirus.
Today it was reported that the Deputy Commissioner of Police has tested positive for the coronavirus, resulting in the quarantining also of the Commissioner of Police and other senior officers. Earlier this week, five other police officers tested positive for the coronavirus.
The New Democratic Party (NDP) is extremely concerned about this increase in the number of COVID- 19 cases, especially as they have resulted from local transmission. The recent developments have heightened public concern about the situation and has diminished public confidence in the way the government is seeking to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.
This present spike of infections has already affected our education system by delaying the reopening of schools and other educational institutions by at least two weeks. It also continues to negatively affect the economy with no further support from government, resulting in business closures and higher unemployment.
The government is not taking a proactive approach in the management of COVID- 19 and appears to have no effective plan to comprehensively address this crisis. The government has adopted a cavalier approach, and continues to send mixed messages to Vincentians, forcing businesses and other institutions to administer their own plans to protect their customers and employees.
The NDP again calls on the government to provide the public with timely and adequate information about the state of the pandemic in SVG and to implement measures that will prevent further local transmission of the virus. We urge that schools remain closed until the situation of local spread is brought under control.
Now that many countries have started COVID-19 vaccination, the government must determine how it will treat vaccinated persons entering SVG and make its plan known to the public, especially the hospitality industry. We also call on the Government to outline its plan, if it has any, for the use of the Covid-19 vaccine in SVG.
Despite all we have learned about the management of the coronavirus over time, it is clear that the situation regarding the coronavirus in SVG is worse today than it has ever been. It is, therefore, premature and grossly misleading for the Prime Minister or any other member of the Government to speak in self-congratulatory terms about the management of the pandemic.
President of the NDP and Leader of the Opposition, Dr. the Honourable Godwin Friday, has reiterated his call for everyone to act responsibly. He said, “We must all remain on high alert and do all that we can to prevent further spread of the virus. Remain calm, wear face masks, maintain social distance when interacting with the public, avoid large crowds where possible, and wash hands regularly as recommended by the World Health Organization. Be safe.”