(By Ernesto Cooke) – COVID-19 cases on the Southern Caribbean island of St Vincent and the Grenadines continue to rise. There are now 28 COVID -19 positive nationals with no recent travel history.
COVID-19 Cases Among Citizens Rising
St Vincent, like many other Caribbean countries, are battling the second Wave of COVID-19.
In its official statement on Wednesday 6th January 2021, the Health Ministry said 28 locals with no recent travel history have tested positive for the virus.
Contact tracing, linking and testing related to all of these local cases are ongoing.
On Tuesday the country’s Chief Medical Officer Simone Keizer- Beache stated the following; the ministry is not saying that we have community spread, rather we are saying there is an investigation ongoing.
Keizer – Beache said the Ministry had made some significant progress in getting the linkages from two recent clusters that have created local spread, and they are continuing investigations.
On Tuesday 5th January 2021, the Chief Medical Officer also stated that samples are being tested for the COVID-19 variant to see if it’s present on the island.
So far, she says all testing done by the Caribbean Public Health Agency have returned negative.
St Vincent Top Health Officials Under Quarantine
On Wednesday St Vincent’s Health Ministry said top health officials were advised to self-quarantine.
The statement said the country’s Health Minister St Clair Prince, Chief Medical Officer Simone Keizer-Beache and the Health Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Cuthbert Knights are in quarantine for a period of five (5) days ending Saturday, January 9, 2021.
Two other administrative staff members have also been placed in quarantine.
The quarantine was advised on contact tracing initiated during the evening of Tuesday, January 5, after receiving a positive COVID-19 PCR result by a relative of a Ministry of Health staff member.
The Minister and the four officers of the MOH, having been in close contact with the positive individual six (6) days previously, were tested during the evening of January 5 and found to be negative for COVID-19.
Thousands Tested For COVID -19 In St Vincent
On Tuesday, St Vincent and the Grenadines Health Ministry confirmed that 21,373 persons had been tested for COVID-19.
Some 20,000 citizens are expected to be inoculated through the COVAX program in the first instance.
Health officials on the island say the final numbers for inoculation should be around 70,000.
There is currently no mass testing on the Southern Caribbean island.
St Vincent: “Very High” Risk Of Importing New Variant
Countries in the region including St Vincent and the Grenadines have a very high risk of importing the new COVID variant.
According to the CARPHA Situation Report (No. 120) published on January 4, the risk of importation of the VOC-202012/01 [the ‘UK variant’] to the Caribbean is very high due to incoming travel from the UK and Europe.
CARPHA’s report stated, “To date, four cases of the new variant have been confirmed in Jamaica.”
A meeting between CARPHA and Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) across the Caribbean was held on Monday (January 4).
It was expected that the regional officials would discuss this variant further and, perhaps, make a coordinated decision on potential travel restrictions.
Latest Figures For St Vincent
St. Vincent and the Grenadines has now recorded one hundred and forty-nine (149) cases of COVID-19. One hundred (100) persons have recovered, and forty-nine (49) remain active. All positive cases will continue to be isolated until cleared by two negative tests.