Health officials in Grenada are claiming victory in their fight against the spread of COVID-19 and an easing of restrictions is set to begin from Monday.
Grenada has had no new cases since April 10 and seven of the thirteen people who tested positive have recovered and tested negative, according to health minister Nickolas Steele.
Speaking at a press conference Saturday, Minister Steele said they had achieved “significant success” in containing the virus which showed up in Grenada in early March, in people who had arrived from the UK and the United States.
“We have been able to contain and protect Grenadian citizens from any massive invasion of the virus into our country,” he said.
“For those limited incidence which did occur, we can now report a significant amount of success – but success which still requires us to be guarded and careful,” he added.
Only 116 samples have been laboratory tested and health officials are expecting more results in the coming week from a small number of pending tests.
The State of Emergency will remain in place for the time being, however Attorney General Dashan Ramdhani, speaking at the news conference said, “we will enter into a more relaxed environment as far as the lockdown is concerned”.
He announced an increase in shopping days of three times a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday as well as the opening of banks, gas stations, hardware stores and bakeries.
During the three ’open’ days the 24-hour curfew will be lifted between 5.00 a.m. and 7.00 p.m.
The State of Emergency and the 24-hour curfew will still apply on non-business days.
Farmers will be free to work on those days and insurance companies as well as money remittance agencies.
Restaurants are also being allowed to operate but will only be allowed to serve take-out.
However, public transportation will not resume and restrictions of one person per row in vehicles will remain in effect as well as physical distancing and face covering.
According to Acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Francis Martin, Grenada is “following the science” in its decision to lift some of the restrictions that have been imposed to contain community spread of the novel coronavirus.
“From an epidemiological standpoint, once one or two of the incubation periods has elapsed then basically you can say that you are free of an epidemic.
“We are well into finishing the first incubation period and we have had no new cases so I am confident. The preliminary reports that we have been seeing for the tests we have been doing at the community level, we are extremely satisfied with the fact that most or all of our tests have been negative.”
Health officials have said the people who are medically cleared will remain under quarantine and will be tested a third time to see if there is a resurgence of the virus.
In China and South Korea where successes had been reported in fighting the virus, doctors have seen many cases of people who recovered and tested negative, testing positive again.
Dr Martin said that the novel coronavirus is not yet fully understood and there are yet no conclusive answers as to why this is happening.
National COVID-19 Co-ordinator Dr. George Mitchell who also spoke at the press conference announced that testing of persons on the island will be significantly ramped up over the next two weeks.
However, it is noted that the rapid testing method being used will not tell officials if a person is COVID19 positive.
The rapid testing kits being used will only say whether a person has been previously exposed to the virus by the presence of certain antibodies in their system
If the test is positive, then a laboratory test would be conducted to see if they are infected.
Dr Martin said the tests were 100 percent accurate with a specificity rate of over 99 percent.
Countries such as the UK and Spain have complained of defective test kits from Chinese manufacturers that give only thirty percent accuracy in most instances.