(ST LUCIA TIMES) – At least two individuals who arrived here Friday from Martinique and were immediately put in quarantine out of concern that may have contracted COVID-19, have escaped from the facility where they were being kept.
Confirmation came from National Security Minister, Hermangild Francis who said he believed about two persons had fled.
Francis spoke in an exclusive interview with St Lucia Times.
He warned the escapees that the police would get them and served notice to persons who harbour the escapees that they are putting themselves at risk and can be arrested under the Quarantine Act.
“I want to tell Saint Lucians, especially those who have left the compound, that the police will leave no stone un-turned in getting them,” the Minister asserted.
He made it clear that when they are found, they will not be returned to the hotel.
Francis said those escapees will be taken to a ‘prison facility’ at Custody Suites where they will remain until it can be verified that they do not have COVID-19.
A viral video of a young man jumping the fence of what was identified as the Starfish Hotel in the North of the Island which is serving as a quarantine site, was posted on social media.
The National Security Minister described the escapes as ‘depressing’.
He said the government had acted responsibly by actually getting a hotel facility for the persons who returned here from Martinique Friday.
The former Deputy Police Commissioner disclosed that Saint Lucia was expecting 135 Saint Lucian returnees.
However he explained that when this country’s Consul General in Martinique, Joanna Salton, told them about the immediate quarantine upon reaching home, 45 decided they would stay on the French speaking Island.
“Ninety-three came. We brought them to the hotel and all of a sudden last night some people wanted to jump the fence and were doing all sort of things – refusing to stay in their rooms and creating problems,” Francis told St Lucia Times.
The minister said the quarantine measure was implemented for the good of all Saint Lucians.
“We could have closed our borders. We had to beg and cajole the French authorities because remember, France has closed its borders and so it took a lot of persuasion from the government and the Prefect in Martinique to be able to arrange that sort of trip, and for us to behave that way as Saint Lucians – it’s a shame,” Francis lamented.
“We are not going to tolerate it. Wherever we have to go and look for the rest, we will arrest them and they will be put in custody suites,” he promised.
Francis, the Minister of Health, the Acting Police Commissioner, the Chief Medical Officer and other officials were at the scene Saturday morning where the persons escaped from quarantine.
He said the authorities have passports and would make a thorough check to determine who are the escapees.