Quarantine Act activated to force compliance

by Linda Straker

  • Individual and his family left aboard Air Canada before he got his results
  • Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) is only accommodating outgoing passenger flights.
  • All incoming flights are only allowed to carry medical supplies

The action of one United Kingdom resident who tested positive for Covid-19 but fled the country while under self-quarantine, has caused Grenada to activate its quarantine legislation which states that any individual who disobeys will be liable to an EC$10,000 fine or 6 months in prison.

“It is regrettable that this has happened, and we are taking steps to ensure that it never happens again,” Health Minister, Nickolas Steele said when he updated the nation on the increasing number of Covid-19 confirmations.

Grenada presently has 10 confirmed cases and has conducted 37 tests at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) lab in Trinidad. The latest is a 58-year-old male who was arrived on a flight from New York on 19 March and who was found through contact tracing.

On Wednesday morning, Dr George Mitchell said on a popular radio talk show that one of the confirmed cases had left the country with his wife and child.

Steele explained that the Covid-19 positive person who arrived on 16 March returned to the United Kingdom via Canada, did not receive his official result from Grenada’s health authorities before his unauthorised departure.

The Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) is only accommodating outgoing passenger flights. All incoming flights are only allowed to carry medical supplies.

“He was tested on Thursday, 26 March. The results came back on Saturday, 28 March. As per procedure, health officials tried to reach him minutes later to inform that he had tested positive for Covid-19. As minister, I went ahead and announced the cases to the nation, as we have been doing,” Steele told citizens in an address on Wednesday evening.

“The individual was neither found on the Saturday nor the Sunday. On Sunday, health officials reported the matter to the police. It was later confirmed that the individual and his family left the island aboard Air Canada before he got his results on Saturday,” said the Health Minister.

Describing the action of the positive Covid-19 patient as a very vexing matter, Steele said that the decision to knowingly flee the country while awaiting the result of such an important test is disturbing.

“This is troubling in many ways, especially the level of exposure between his place of residence in Grenada and his abode in the United Kingdom, where he says he is now. This is a level of dishonesty and recklessness, such that we do not need at this time. We cannot stress enough, lives are already at stake, without the added risks,” he said. “We have followed up with that individual to ascertain his movements and mode of movement on the day he left the country undetected. We are also following up with relevant law enforcement authorities because, in our view, this is cause for liability,” he said without pointing to the form of liability.

Informing citizens that as per international procedure, once someone is tested, that person is placed under self-quarantine at their place of residence, and officials monitor them, until their tests results are obtained, Steele said that once a test returns positive and there is no need for medical attention during the period of their illness, that person is quarantined at home and constantly monitored for the next 14 days.

“This is the standard practice everywhere in the world. This fellow-citizens, calls for a certain degree of honesty, respect and personal responsibility. This is a matter of public confidence and trust. We, as officials, trust that no one would be so reckless, as to knowingly expose others to this deadly disease,” he said.

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