The Covid-19 case involving Patient 25 has not taken many Grenadians by surprise and was waiting to happen anytime.
THE NEW TODAY is not amazed that someone came into the country, tested positive for the coronavirus and managed to slip out of the quarantine facility, according to the authorities and was able to intermingle quite easily with the community.
This issue brought to focus what many locals had feared for months that there were many shortcomings in the system put in place by the Ministry of Health and the frequent boast by many that Grenada is Covid-19 free.
It is quite frightening that even the acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Shawn Charles is satisfied with the system put in place on the island to handle the deadly virus.
This newspaper invites the CMO to read the front page article in this week’s edition in which former Attorney General Jimmy Bristol was able to point out another glaring shortcoming in the system.
Mr. Bristol pointed specifically at the manner in which passengers coming from the “Caricom Bubble” who were conditionally guaranteed easy entry into the country are allowed to intermingle with passengers coming from hot spot areas like the United States on arrival at the airport.
The case of “Patient 25” should force the Health authorities and members of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) to review the system in light of the fact that the international flights have been given the green light to bring in passengers.
The Ministry of Health is relying too much on the police force and its already overworked members to handle some important aspects of security.
Our men and women in uniform have their regular policing duties to perform and should not be overburdened with Covid-19 duties.
The police are not robots and the time has come for fresh legs to get involved in the process and take the baton from the police and be given powers to provide specific security duties on behalf of the State in ensuring the protocols are adhere to especially at state-approved quarantine facilities.
There is dire need for someone to look over the private guards that are put in place by these private sector entities to look over persons placed in quarantine.
The Ministry of Heath has to be more definitive with the period of quarantine for persons coming into Grenada from outside the “Caricom Bubble”.
The guidelines must be clear to all and sundry. The perception out there is that the quarantine period is for 4 days when in truth and in fact it is longer as persons have to wait on the results of the PCR test conducted in Grenada which can take up to 6 days to get the all-clear to leave the facility.
An individual will book to stay at the quarantine facility for the four days as stipulated and then leave the compound after that period on the mistaken belief that he had served his quarantine period.
The fact that he is able to leave the compound without anyone stopping him sends a clear message about the security system that is in place at the facility itself.
THE NEW TODAY is fully aware that several persons were able to leave the quarantine facility early and make their way into the local community, despite
the fact that Grenadians were made to believe that watches for tracking persons in quarantine were part of the existing protocols.
Nevertheless, “Case 25” created a stir in the country because the person involved tested positive and not negative for the virus.
Is it too far-fetched to conclude that “Patient 25” could have easily booked a flight out of the island and pose more health dangers to others?
This newspaper is also aware that some of the security guards hired by the private contractors are not happy with the job due to low salaries and this has implications for the type of security work that is done at some of the quarantine facilities.
The acting CMO was also very insensitive at the most recent press briefing when he used words to the effect that Grenadians living in the Diaspora should not come back home if they are not prepared to obey the Covid-19 protocols.
It is our hope that Dr. Charles was conveying his own personal feelings and not that of the Government of Grenada as every Grenadian has a stake in this little piece of rock known internationally as the Isle of Spice.
If good, sensible, workable and clear protocols are put in place and are broken by incoming passengers then the long arm of the law should take over instead of the foolishness that came out of the mouth of the CMO.
If that is the attitude from the Ministry of Health then there is no need for the laws to be on the books to keep violators in check.