At least eight people who came in contact with a British visitor who has the coronavirus have been tested for COVID-19 and asked to self-isolate as health officials in Grenada race to contain the possible spread of the virus.
Speaking at Tuesday’s post-Cabinet press briefing, Health Minister Nickolas Steele said he is extremely worried about the case because the visitor, who spent seven nights at a hotel in the south of the island had already been displaying symptoms while on the island but failed to report it.
According to the senior government minister, the test results were expected within 24 hours.
“We are focusing on the St Lucia situation and that is the one that is worrying me because the person started to display symptoms here but chose not to report it,” he said.
The woman tested positive in St Lucia and others in the group she was travelling with have also shown symptoms.
The management of the hotel has taken measures to deal with the situation by shutting down some areas where the woman would have spent time.
Most of the people tested for possible COVID-19 infection are employees of the hotel and they are being asked to stay at home until the test results return from the CARPHA laboratory in Trinidad.
Health Coordinator for COVID-19, Dr George Mitchell told reporters, “If they are positive we have encapsulated the spread.”
However, there is no assurance that these “persons of interest” will adhere to self-isolation.
Minister Steele has acknowledged that there is risk in asking people to self-isolate but he said the education efforts by his ministry has been sufficient to encourage responsible behaviour.
“Individuals have tried to leave self-isolation and we have received calls and they have been stopped by the community,” he remarked.
Under the Public Health Act, people can be forced into Quarantine if the situation warrants such action.
Minister Steele urged people who are asked to self-isolate to avoid physical contact with others in their household and practice social distancing.
The Health Minister also announced that Grenada is taking steps to increase testing.
So far the Health Department has received only thirty-five COVID-19 test kits and 18 have already been utilised.
The minister said that they have ordered a further 600 kits and believes that this is “enough to carry us all the way through to when we have our own machines”.
Further travel restrictions went into effect from midnight Wednesday that imposed mandatory quarantine for all returning nationals coming from Europe, Iran, South Korea and China.
Non-nationals and non-residents coming in to Grenada from the countries of interest within the last fourteen days prior to arrival will be refused entry into the country.
The United States and Canada where the virus is also spreading, have not been mentioned.
However, Minister Steele said that anyone arriving from other destinations “would be screened and asked to self-quarantine for 14 days” and “check in daily with the Ministry of Health”.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation is also working with international airlines “to work out a schedule for repatriation” of non-nationals on the island.