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Acting CMO did not refute Home Quarantine is on COVID-19 website

Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shawn Charles

Grenada’s Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shawn Charles has not disputed that the information on the Government website about the published protocols for returning nationals in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic is misleading.

Dr. Charles was responding to a letter sent to him by local journalist George Worme who had filled out the necessary form for Home Quarantine in keeping with the government protocol as published on the official COVID-19 website.

Worme did not ask for any special favours from the Keith Mitchell-led government on the issue of quarantine, as the offer is open to all returning nationals.

In his response, Dr. Charles said that they are “still hesitant to return” to the home quarantine approach.

However, the Home Quarantine Application form has not been removed from the official COVID-19 website, which turned out to be very misleading to applicants.

Dr. Charles’ version differed with that of Tourism Minister Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen who told a sitting of Parliament on Wednesday that there is a Home Quarantine protocol as part of the Covd-19 regulation.

A medical expert who was shown Dr. Charles’ response letter said it is quite clear that the Grenada CMO was ducking and avoiding to answer the issues raised by Worme and described the response letter as “quite badly written”.

“He (Dr. Charles) admits that the information on the website is incorrect. This response is an apology (for the errors in the protocols) – not really a serious response from a Public Health perspective,” he remarked.

As a public service, THE NEW TODAY reproduces in full the unedited response sent to Worme by acting CMO Dr. Charles on the issue:

Dear Mr. Worme

Your email is acknowledged.

The ministry of health has fought hard to control the COVID-19 outbreak in Grenada and we are determined to prevent its reintroduction and spread. Our population has by and large been so far speared the brunt of this disease by the grace of God. We continue to work each day to ensure that this country remains a safe haven from COVID-19.

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I am aware that some of the decisions that we make and measures taken to address the COVID-19 situation are the source of some discomfort for citizens and non-citizens alike arriving in Grenada. I asure you that it is all in the interest of shielding our population from the unpleasant consequencies of this disease that is soo evident in many countries that are even better resourced than ours.

Early in our response to the outbreak home quarantine did not work because many travelers simply did not obey instructions. As such we are still hesitant to return to this approach. The current atmosphere of non-compliance in the country is a further worry because it is simply not possible, with our current resources, to monitor every home. Hence controls radiating around port of entry is given hightened importance.

Maybe in time we will once again embrace home quarantine but it will certainly be in a phased manner; begining with persons from medium risk countries. But this is a consideration in the future.

I personally hope that an effective vaccine will be widely available soon and countries of the region get a better handle of this disease so that the need for these control measures is removed altogether.

Shawn Charles M.D. MPH
CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER (AG.)
Medical Officer of Health-Epidemiology
Ministry of Health, Social Security and International Business