The Vincentian woman who tested positive for the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) on Wednesday, travelled through Barbados on her way home on March 7.
However, medical officials there insist she was unlikely to be contagious when she was in transit at Grantley Adams International Airport.
St Vincent and the Grenadines Minister of Health Luke Browne confirmed that the woman, who is in her 30s, travelled from the United Kingdom (UK) to Barbados. She then transferred to a LIAT flight.
“It is very unlikely that this individual was contagious on route to St Vincent. In fact, the symptoms only developed on March 10 which was long after,” said Browne.
He declined to divulge on which airline the woman arrived in Barbados as well as which LIAT flight she took, but said his ministry was doing contact tracing “on all sectors of the journey” as a precautionary measure.
He assured Barbadians who might have come into contact with the woman, that they had no need to worry, reiterating that she did not develop symptoms until days after arriving in St Vincent.
The Weekend Nation was unable to speak with acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Anton Best to find out if Barbados was doing contact tracing of passengers who travelled on the same flight as the Vincentian from the UK.
However, a doctor said “the issue is whether she was coughing and sneezing on the plane, and it seems she was not doing that. So, she had no symptoms on the flight”.
No coughing, sneezing
The doctor said this suggested that though the incubation period for Covid-19 was 14 days, “she would have been asymptomatic – that is, no fever, coughing or sneezing” on the flight. Therefore, it was unlikely she would have infected anyone at that time.
Minister of Tourism and International Transport Kerrie Symmonds said he was not privy to any information regarding the travel route taken by the woman and could not “comment sensibly on that matter”. However, he said there was a standing protocol at the airport and the Bridgetown Port where public health officials interfaced with arriving passengers.
“Where there is evidence of them presenting with symptoms that appear relevant, or where their recent travel history indicates they were in an area of concern within the last two weeks, then they are subjected to closer scrutiny. That scrutiny involves a more detailed assessment of their health and travel history and related personal contact matters,” said Symmonds.