The first person to have officially died of COVID-19 in Grenada has been identified as 72-year old William John of Birchgrove, St. Andrew.
John, a retired worker of the Central Water Commission (CWC) known as the National Water & Sewerage Authority (NAWASA) died Sunday morning at the St. George’s General Hospital.
The daughter of the elderly man, Ali John who lives in the United States says that the Ministry of Health is to be blamed for the death after he developed pneumonia.
The daughter told THE NEW TODAY that her parents were first informed that they were negative after a Rapid Test at the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) on December 16, after arriving from the US and a PCR test for which a sample was taken on the fourth day of home quarantine.
On December 22, both the man and his wife, who live in Birchgrove were contacted and informed that their PCR tests had come back negative but according to his daughter, just a day later he began showing symptoms.
“My father started having symptoms the day after they told him he was negative. Three days he was laying down at home with all the COVID-19 symptoms,” his daughter said.
His condition worsened and on December 27 he was taken to the Princess Alice Hospital at Mirabeau where his symptoms were linked to underlying conditions and he was treated with an IV and sent home.
A day later, a private doctor made a house call and it was at that time that his condition was diagnosed as pneumonia and admitted to the Princess Alice Hospital on December 31 at which time he was given a Rapid Test which showed that he was in fact COVID-19 positive.
The elderly man was not admitted to the St. George’s General Hospital until three days later on January 2.
His daughter believes the slowness to admit him to the larger, better equipped hospital in the city could have contributed to his death.
“He had all the symptoms but they refused to take him to the General Hospital where they have ventilators,” she said.
Ms John said her mother, who is awaiting the results of a PCR test, has now started to display symptoms of Covid-19.
On Sunday, the Ministry of Health called off a planned news conference to address the issue saying that the last minute cancellation is because they do not yet have all the facts.
“The Ministry of Health is still in the process of ascertaining all of the facts surrounding the island’s first COVID-19 related death, which was announced earlier today”.
Ms John said while her father did have underlying conditions, including diabetes but he was not seriously ill over the past weeks.
“Yes, he has underlying conditions, like diabetes but the man was there good, he cutlassing his land and all that,” she said to this newspaper.
The daughter, who lives in the US is calling on the Minister of Health to make changes to the quarantine and testing protocols.
She wants to see the fourteen day quarantine period, provided for in the regulations, enforced more strictly and she is calling on the Ministry of Health to extend the period within which people in quarantine are tested.
She is suggesting that tests ought to be done at least seven days after arrival in Grenada since people have contracted the virus after testing negative in their country of origin.
“Millions of people are moving through airports and the virus is being transmitted to people while they are travelling. They need to stop that four day testing because I bet you there are people who were positive who (were) given negative results and went home with no symptoms or mild symptoms and have been infecting other people,” she added.
Several persons in the Birchgrove area have been asked to self-quarantine as they had come in contact with the deceased since he arrived back on island.
So far Grenada has officially recorded 127 cases and the majority of those who caught the virus did not display symptoms, based on information from the Ministry of Health.
This is the fifth case in the last week of people being given negative test results and later being informed by the Ministry of Health that they were in fact positive.
THE NEW TODAY reported about a week ago on one such case in Mt Horne and three others in Mt Carmel.
During a news conference last Thursday, the Health Minister did not respond directly when asked whether people have received false negative test results.
“With respect to information out there of individuals who would have been cleared from quarantine, that is individuals who received a negative PCR test result after their fourth day swab (test) – yes, there are individuals who tested negative, and they were released,” said Minister Steele.
He went on to explain that some people were contacted and asked to quarantine after being medically cleared because of contact tracing.
“It is in that instance that individuals would have been contacted to say we have information to say that you have been in contact with a positive case whom you travelled with and there we would like you to isolate until further notice, in the same way you would contact any other individual in the community who may have come in contact with a positive case,” said Minister Steele.
Health officials have been conducting pool testing, a method which cuts down on the number of tests and utilises less test materials.
However international health agencies believe that pooled tests may also result in an increase in false negatives because combined samples are diluted, making it more difficult to pick up the virus material.