The COVID-19 Gatekeepers
June 9, 2020

The COVID-19 Gatekeepers

Over the weekend, the public was informed about St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) most recent Covid-19 positive case – the 27th person to test positive for the virus here. This case is an interesting one, as according to the release from the authorities, the new positive case is a seafarer who arrived in SVG on May 26, and previously tested negative on the COVID-19 PCR test done on arrival. Now, 11 days later, a second COVID-19 PCR test done on that person returned a positive result.

Our health officials must be commended for their diligence in catching that case, which could easily have been missed had their approach to tracking down positive cases been less thorough. That’s how lives are saved, and the team at the Ministry of Health should be commended.

At this point in the pandemic, our health authorities’ record of protecting Vincentians is far superior to countries that possess far greater human and financial resources than we could possibly imagine.

As at June 8, 27 persons have tested positive; 16 people have recovered; there are 11 active cases; zero deaths; 638 people have been tested; there are 91 tests pending; and there are 442 people in quarantine.

The focus on protecting residents from being infected by returning Vincentians while not depriving Vincentians wanting to return home of their rights as citizens was a difficult challenge. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Since the first case of Covid-19 was identified here on March 11, hundreds of Vincentians have returned home, many from hotbeds of COVID-19 infection, cruise ships being prominent among these. Of the returning Vincentians, approximately 550 of them have been seafarers. Of these, 17 of them have tested positive for COVID-19. But the broader public has been shielded from the threat posed by these returning sailors. This was no accident. Besides the individual and collective efforts of our people to keep the virus at bay, again, our success reflects the thoughtful consideration by our health professionals of what was the best way to solve this potentially lethal riddle.

We should observe that none of this took place without criticism, often withering, uninformed, sometimes personal. But in the face of the storm, our health professionals stayed the course. They kept their hands on the rudder of our ship of health and they thus far they have steered us into a surprisingly safe waters.

By no means has the threat been eliminated. But the fact that to date, no one has needed to be hospitalized and no one has died, demonstrates that our health authorities have been up to the task they have been called to at an unparalleled moment in the history of this country.

It does not mean that they can or will rest. But it does mean we should give some praise to those whose mission is to save our lives. They stand at the door keeping watch. And they have not fallen asleep at their post.