The new coronavirus issue is as old as last November. However, it was not until March of this year that Grenada decided to take it seriously. Some people may disagree with using the word seriously, since to date we have fallen short in so many ways. Both the Royal Grenada Police Force and the Ministry of Health have had to face unforeseen challenges along the way, but they themselves at times do not lead by example.
The medical doctor and his wife who were each fined EC$5,000 for breaching the quarantine protocols may not be easy to be justified. People have been on call-in radio programmes to state their disgust and rightly so, that the medical doctor and his fine were not given the maximum fine since by profession, the husband is in a position to appraise the domino effect their actions would cause. While awaiting their results they visited four restaurants that subsequently had to be closed for some time. Even workers were required to stay off the job, which could have resulted in losing much needed income. The woman, who came in close contact with the couple and her son sadly are now infected. If the quarantine was taken seriously, why was the woman in such close contact with the couple? Was she doing domestic chores for them? If so, was that made clear to the Ministry of Health?
Anyway, Dr Tim McKinney and his wife Amy Baxter, who became Grenada’s number 31 and 32 confirmed COVID-19 cases, appeared at the Saint George’s Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday (November 25) and after the $5,000 fines were paid, they were released. According to reports, they are now pronounced free from the virus.
The issue of people breaking out of and, in one instance, breaking into quarantine facilities have sparked public discussions about the Ministry of Health’s capability to monitor people in those facilities. There is the need for people to adhere to the protocols, but besides the couple, weren’t there two other people who were previously charged for breaching the quarantine regulations?
The Ministry of Health knows that home quarantine has proven to be a less than perfect system. In the last week, understanding the lack of capacity to effectively monitor, test and provide timely test results to everyone who requests to quarantine at home, the Ministry drastically reduced the number of approvals granted. It is our hope that there will be more security in operations, and more efficiency in the testing process since some people can be asymptomatic.
We all must play our part in taking our responsibility seriously in containing this disease and individuals must take ownership of their health and that of others, hence the reason social distancing and wearing masks in public spaces. People in power MUST lead by example. Much is said about the importance of wearing masks to cover the mouth and nose while in public. One day we may see a citizen arrest of health wardens, many of whom constantly fail to comply with that protocol. They are seen in different places with the masks on their chins if wearing any at all, as they expose their mouths and noses and don’t they know about social distancing?
The Ministry has stated that it is “continuously amending and improving its operations through comprehensive engagements with stakeholders to effectively control, as far as is possible, any potential spread of the virus.
It is our hope that the process will be stepped up and there will be no more complaints on call-in programmes. One woman even complained that she was told by way of a telephone call that her result was negative, but it took a while before health personnel arrived at her home to remove the surveillance gadget from her arm. To this Minister Steele said that people can be honest and return the gadgets; it’s interesting that he did not say how and where.
Also, the recent unscheduled call of a yacht in a marina in Saint David is another eye-opener. Perhaps in another country it would have been shot at. But in Grenada while we welcome visitors with open arms, we must be aware that some would take advantage of our kindness. There was a similar situation in Petite Martinique which due to quick actions by residents there, it was quickly dealt with. However, Minister Steele could not reveal if and when ventilators will be made available in Carriacou since the question continues to be getting someone trained for that speciality. So in the meantime let’s continue to pray.