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Protecting G’da against the coronavirus

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has warned Grenadians that it is more than likely that the deadly novel coronavirus (Covid19) will get into the island.

In a radio and television broadcast on Tuesday night, the Grenadian leader touched on some of the initiatives being undertaken by the ruling New National Party (NNP) government to deal with the threat of the virus.

He said: “…All the necessary measures are being taken to safeguard the people of this country against the coronavirus outbreak. However, we must also accept our individual responsibility for helping to curb the potential spread of the disease”.

“Government’s measures must be complemented by individual actions to follow the advice of health experts, as it relates to proper cough, sneeze and handwashing practices. Accepting individual responsibility in this scenario might also require some temporary adjustments of our cultural norms and religious practices so that we do not enable the spread of the virus.

“Intense discussions have been taking place among relevant stakeholders and government has now made available an additional $2 million to bolster our Covid19 preparedness actions.

“We will not spare any effort in ensuring that all the necessary measures are in place to protect our country and therefore, we stand prepared to increase that figure if it becomes necessary, as the situation unfolds. These are significant resources and we must demonstrate full accountability in all that we do.

“The Minister of Health will provide greater details on some of the more specific actions that are being taken to safeguard our country, but we are investing heavily in the procurement of additional medical, and other supplies to further equip our hospitals and community health centres, and outfit the treatment centres that are being established.

“Schools are also being provided with significant supplies, such as thermometers, to help identify symptoms of the virus. There is also ongoing training of medical practitioners, other frontline staff and at-risk groups, including hotel workers and educators.

To complement these and other critical actions, several policy-level decisions have been taken.

  • A Covid19 Coordinator, in the person of Dr George Mitchell, has been appointed to manage the activities of all stakeholders, as they relate to the disease.
  • The Sanitary Authority has been activated under the Acting Chief Medical Officer and is responsible for directing and mandating all technical-related activities relevant to Covid19.
  • The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of National Security are further strengthening our border control efforts, ensuring that all measures relating to port health, surveillance, screening and other necessary procedures, are continued.
  • Additional supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are being purchased to ensure that persons on the frontline of the preventive effort are properly protected and their level of exposure is minimal. We have also obtained thousands of masks, some of which are being distributed to our students in China, and arrangements are being made to transport the remainder to Grenada.
  • The Ministry of Education will work in collaboration with the Ministry of Health to ensure that teachers and students are equipped with basic information about preventing the spread of the virus by practicing proper cough, sneeze and hand-washing techniques. Similar exercises will be conducted with elements of the private and public sectors.
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Additionally, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) has indicated that it is prepared to procure equipment on behalf of member states, as part of its contribution to the fight against the virus.

Caricom has also agreed, in collaboration with the cruise ship industry, to a set of minimum protocols for cruise ships. We are confident that through such collaborative actions, we will minimise the potential impact on our country and region.

This combination of local and regional measures will help to strengthen other critical actions, which have so far proven effective in keeping the disease out of Grenada.

The Importation Transmission Watch announced last week, remains in full effect and we are strictly enforcing the mandatory quarantine of persons entering Grenada from at-risk countries. Just yesterday (Monday), a private aircraft was denied entry because of the potential exposure of some of its passengers. It is clear that government will not intentionally put the people of this country at risk, despite propaganda to the contrary.

The time has clearly come for us to move past the ban imposed on persons specifically coming from China because the disease is now present in more than 60 countries around the world. The threat becomes even greater now because evidently, not all countries are enforcing strict measures to protect their borders, therefore, we must continue to do all that is necessary to safeguard our country and our people.

It is important to pay attention to the tips shared by health agencies; such as washing your hands thoroughly and regularly; covering your mouth and nose fully when you cough or sneeze; maintaining a safe distance from persons who are sneezing or coughing; staying at home if you feel unwell and seeking immediate medical attention if you experience flu-like symptoms.

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