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Quarantine facilities kept secret amidst hysteria surrounding COVID-19

Health Minister Nicholas Steele

A cloud of secrecy continues to loom over exactly where the Government of Grenada is quarantining persons who are coming from areas known to have active transmission of the deadly COVID-19.

“I will keep avoiding that question because of the level of hysteria and disinformation that is out there,” Health Minister Nicholas Steele said in response to a question posed by THE NEW TODAY as it relates to the location and capacity of the island’s quarantine facility.

“We have safely quarantined persons at different locations. Some of those individuals have been released from quarantine already and we have advised them to also not say where the places are …”, he added.

According to the minister, this is a very sensitive issue as “nobody wants it (the quarantine facility) to be in their area even though we know scientifically that once it’s 10, 15 feet away from us we are safe (because there) is still a certain level of discomfort”.

“So, in order to prevent any hysteria, we have been using our discretion and not been saying where those places are,” Minister Steele told reporters during the weekly Post-cabinet briefing held at the Botanical Gardens in Tanteen.

“We have however, announced where our free clinics would be, should there be a need for our citizens to go somewhere or they feel they have COVID-19,” he added.

The Health Minister confirmed that since the outbreak of COVID-19 a total of 19 individuals have been quarantined at different locations across the island, with some nine (9) comprising mostly non-nationals being released.

He also announced that the island now has the capacity to test for the deadly virus.

“We have currently 25 of these (tests) on island and that is what is prescribed by the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) as a protocol to follow. So, if we suspected somebody of having COVID-19, we would swab them with this swab, it is inserted in the nose and this test tube is sent down to CARPHA.

“We have two protocols set in place for that as well, if it is where we think there is community contact with that person and we need to know immediately then we have arrangements with RSS (Regional Security Services) aircraft to collect the test and deliver it to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).

“If it is that the person is in quarantine already and we do not think that there is community contact then we would send it via Quick pack or with one of the airlines.

The Health Minister also pointed out that CARPHA is able to provide the test results “within four (4) hours” of receiving the samples.

COVID-19 National Coordinator Dr. George Mitchell

“Once we have those results then we will make a decision…if they are negative then the person is free to go, if it’s positive then we act accordingly,” he remarked.

“We are not just going to test for COVID-19 but influenza as well because the symptoms are very similar,” he said.

Newly appointed COVID-19 Coordinator, Dr. George Mitchell, who also addressed Tuesday’s Post Cabinet briefing explained that while quarantining is for persons travelling to the island from destinations where transmission has occurred, “isolation is for persons who have been in those areas and are coming down with respiratory symptoms such as (cough, wheezing, runny nose and in more serious cases shortness of breath et cetera) and have a strong suspicion that they do have COVID-19…”.

“…We do have isolation facilities that we are improving on (but) until the issue of confirmation because you can be suspected but it does not mean that you have COVID-19.”

Dr. Mitchell explained that “isolation depends on the severity of your case and would need medical support – that is what we are bringing to bear.”

While there is no cure for COVID-19, Dr. Mitchell pointed out that the “strategy is basically to ensure that persons are experiencing the best possible health and to ensure that we have all the supportive mechanisms to assist with the treatment of those cases”.

“We are watching the development in the places where those experiments are being conducted and we would basically seek to advantage ourselves with those when the time comes,” he said.

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