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Sandals guests speak out

We recommend that one shouldn’t believe all the hype and hysteria they hear surrounding the recent outbreak of Covid-19 cases (alleged) involving the Sandals Resort in southern Grenada. We say this with firsthand knowledge since we were at the Sandals Resort and were also one of the nine guests that tested positive for Covid-19, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH).

We had been forced into quarantine at the Sandals Resort with limited contact with anyone from the outside and were getting the majority of our information from various Grenadian news outlets. Let us share the experience with you and shed some light on the entire situation and blame game.

My wife and I travelled to Grenada for a getaway from the cold weather in Maine. Prior to leaving for our journey, we followed all established protocols that had been established by the Grenadian government. To include obtaining permission, through online application to travel to Grenada and obtaining a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of our departure.

Thinking all boxes had been checked and all precautions had been taken we headed out. Of course, we realised that there were still risks being taken for travelling during a pandemic. But what we encountered was nothing more than politics in play not true Covid-19 infection risks.

Within the first few hours at the Sandals Resort, we were impressed with the safety protocols that were in place. Yes, we were allowed to walk around without wearing a mask when we were alone in open spaces. But beyond that there were very strict procedures in place. This included wearing of a mask in areas that groups would be, having our temperatures taken before entering an enclosed space (restaurant or shop), not being allowed to leave the resort into the community, and having to sanitise our hands often at any one of the many sanitising stations that had been placed around the resort. Overall, the safety measures that were in place were far stricter than what we were accustomed to in the United States.

On day one of our vacation, the MOH was at the resort doing random saliva tests for Covid-19. This is a rapid test which is far less accurate than an actual PCR test. Knowing we had just tested negative days before we participated in the random testing, this turned out to be the disaster of our vacation. The following day we were approached by Sandals’ staff and told that I had tested positive for Covid-19 from that rapid test and that I needed to immediately quarantine in my room. Knowing that rapid tests are notorious for producing false positive tests I immediately requested that the MOH re-test me and this time using the PCR (nasal swab) test.

Later that day the MOH came to our room and did a nasal swab of both my wife and I. We were told by MOH employees that we would have the test results within 24 to 48 hours. My wife and I remained in quarantine and this had been without having ever seen the actual results from the first test. Everything thus far had been hearsay but knowing the dangers associated with Covid-19, we complied with the request to quarantine none the less. Especially since my wife is asthmatic which caused us grave concern.

After waiting our 48 hours we made several attempts to contact the MOH and get our test results. We were unable to talk to anyone that could provide us with answers let alone provide us with the PCR test results. This included attempts made by Sandals staff to obtain those test results as well. In the interim we remained quarantined in our room.

Now it is four days later and we still had no answers or access to our PCR test results. During this time, we were watching the news and hearing how the MOH was assuring Grenada that they have had no false positive test results. Standing behind their rapid test results and accusing Sandals of being the source of the Covid-19 cluster. Explaining that they were doing contact tracing on all positive tests so they could contain this outbreak. But, for some reason the MOH never came and interviewed us for our positive test. Could this be because our following PCR tests were negative? Why waste time and valuable resources on contact tracing when there is no risk of the spread of the virus.

We are starting to think that we were being held captive in our room not quarantining for safety reasons. Simply because the MOH did not want to admit that there had been a false positive test result. This would go against what the MOH was saying to the citizens of Grenada and releasing our negative PCR tests would prove this.

On the day we were supposed to leave Grenada the MOH came to our room and conducted another PCR test. We were again told that we would have access to our results in 24 to 48 hours. During this test we had a conversation, over the phone, with the Chief Medical Officer at MOH. During which we directly requested our test results. He agreed to do this and eventually emailed us our rapid test results. But did not include the results of either of our PCR tests. He had stated that he only included positive tests in the email. Which furthered our suspicions that both of our PCR tests were negative proving that the saliva test was a false positive.

Our vacation had only been for eight days, which we had to extend, because we were not allowed to leave our room until day eleven. We had been quarantined in our room for ten days. Our vacation had been ruined simply because the MOH did not want to admit that they were wrong and that there were false positive tests. They wanted to point the blame at Sandals for the outbreak and if they admitted that there were mistakes made that would not bode well with their argument. For that reason, MOH chose to keep my wife and I hostage in our room rather than letting us enjoy Grenada.

When we returned to the United States, we both quickly got another PCR test completed (which would have been within the 14-day quarantine period). As we suspected our test results were negative! Confirming that we did not have Covid-19 nor did we ever have it. All the time that we were confined to our room was for political gains of the MOH. The MOH is more concerned with protecting their image, pointing blame, and playing political games.

From our brief visit to Grenada and the news releases that the MOH provided it was very obvious that they were manipulating the truth. We had been in contact with the other quarantined couple at Sandals that had also voluntarily participated in the saliva test. They took a PCR test upon their return to the United States as well which was also negative.

I would now go as far as to say that the other seven Sandals’ guests that tested positive during the saliva tests were all actually negative. The MOH, of course will never admit to that. Since our return to the United States, we have continued to try obtain our PCR test results from the MOH to no avail. In fact, they stand behind that false positive saliva test assuring us that we were CoVid-19 positive.

Don’t believe all that you hear and see in the media because sometimes there are bigger political motives in play. We are first hand proof of this! We had been used as political pawns in a blame game with no regard for our freedoms and rights. The picture being painted in the press was more important than truth in the eyes of the MOH.

Matthew & Jennifer Gilman
U.S.A

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