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Opposition Leader: Gov’t won’t close COVID-19 loophole

Opposition Leader Tobias Clement – met with the Prime Minister on Wednesday

Opposition Leader Tobias Clement has said he does not believe that the Keith Mitchell-led Administration will budge on public demands for a change in Grenada’s quarantine period for vaccinated people arriving in the country.

Clement met with Prime Minister Mitchell on Wednesday, their first meeting since the Opposition Leader crossed the floor from the government side.

Health Minister Nickolas Steele was also part of that meeting to answer questions regarding the pandemic and the prevalence of the virus in Grenada.

“They do not believe that the two-day quarantine is relevant to the situation right now,” Clement commented during a news conference Thursday.

Clement is of the opinion that the government is making a mistake by continuing to refuse to increase the quarantine period to five or seven days given the possibility that people arriving with negative test results could have been infected in the period after test and before their arrival on Grenadian soil.

“I strongly believe that science should be followed and that loophole should be closed,” he said.

Clement called the COVID-19 numbers in Grenada frightening, adding, “We are in a desperate situation”.

Positive cases have crossed two thousand with more than forty deaths and Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Shawn Charles on Tuesday said one in every three COVID-19 tests is turning up positive, meaning that about one third of the population, more than thirty thousand people are likely infected.

The CMO also projected that if the current trend and behaviour patterns of the public continue then infection could spread to half the population of Grenada which is just over 100, 000.

The CMO has also said publicly that the shortened quarantine period will have no impact on the current community spread of the virus.

The Opposition Leader said if the infection rate continues to grow the machinery of government and the country would be crippled.

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There is no clear indication about how community spread started in Grenada and the government continues to deny that its reduced quarantine, put in place to satisfy lobby from the hotel and tourism sector, has anything to do with how the virus came in after months of zero local infections.

Health Minister Nickolas Steele as well as the CMO have sought to link the outbreak to carnival activities and fetes which took place in the first two weeks of August but have not offered any theories about how the Delta strain came in.

Currently it is also believed that other variants have entered the country and are circulating.

During the meeting with the Prime Minister, the Opposition Leader also requested that an itemised section be included in the upcoming budget with an allocation of $150 million dollars to deal with COVID-19 issues – he said the Prime Minister has agreed to do so.

Clement announced that he has reached out to the United States government through its Charge d’Affaires to ask for assistance for Grenada, including a field hospital to treat COVID-19 patients and he has also made an appeal for more manpower – nurses and doctors to come to Grenada’s rescue as the crisis deepens.

The healthcare system is already overwhelmed, one month into the outbreak with sixty-seven people in hospital.

This week, health officials said the first floor of the St George’s General Hospital had been converted to a treatment area and that there are contingency plans to place patients on medical wards.

During the news conference on Thursday, Clement also made an appeal to the public to do their part and encouraged vaccination which he said would give the island a “fighting chance” in the Covid-19 crisis.