Until proven otherwise, residents of St Vincent and the Grenadines must assume that they are now at increased risk of Covid-19 infection and should wear masks once they leave their homes.
Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Simone Keizer-Beache told SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday that with two new positive cases with no history of travel having been confirmed on Tuesday, the need for residents to adhere to established Covid-19 protocols is even more critical.
These two individuals came to the attention of health authorities after one of them experienced certain symptoms and contacted the Covid-19 task force, and based on contact tracing and testing, the other individual was identified.
The CMO said testing and contact tracing for these two individuals is still ongoing and up to Tuesday evening, 66 contacts had been identified.
The major challenge being experienced with contact tracing of the last two cases is persons being unable to say who was with them and who may have been exposed.
“Because of these last two cases … the importance of having a registry and importance using a mask once you are out of your home has multiplied significantly. We have to do it. That is the only thing that is going to help
“Right now, anybody going out there must assume, until proven otherwise, even as we are still doing investigations, they must assume that they are at increased risk until proven otherwise, and they must wear their masks and they must insist that when they attend events, that the proprietors or organizers keep a registry,” Keizer-Beache said.
The CMO said health authorities here were concerned about the lack of mask wearing during the busy Christmas shopping season, and looking ahead at the upcoming events tonight and this weekend, she is pleading with the public to adhere to the Covid-19 protocols.
“We are really asking persons to comply with the existing mass gathering protocols which require that if you have an event, that you keep a record of the persons who are there. Even if you don’t have a record of each individual, if it is a group, ensure that at least one person in each group is registered.
“If we need to track and do contact tracing coming out of these events, we can do that,” Keizer-Beache said.
Meanwhile, SEARCHLIGHT has learned that at least one of the two persons with no recent travel history who tested positive for Covid-19 is an employee of the St Vincent Electricity Services Ltd (VINLEC).
In a circular sent to all staff members on December 29, chief executive officer Thornley Myers advised that an employee had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
“The employee’s last day on the job was Thursday, 24th December 2020. A list of all employees who were in contact with the affected employee was submitted to the Ministry of Health and testing of these employees for the virus has commenced. All employees who have had any contact with the identified party have been asked to quarantine themselves and would not be on the job for the remainder of the week. The situation with these employees and all others who may have had casual contact with the affected party would be closely monitored,” the circular said.
Myers said he had visited the employees who are “directly affected by this development” and assured them of the company’s support.
Also on Tuesday, Wayne Hull, country manager of telecommunications company Flow advised his staff in an email that employees located at their Arnos Vale compound “were exposed to a citizen who tested positive for Covid-19.”
“As a precaution, we are closing the Arnos Vale Exchange Building immediately. Both Arnos Vale Exchange and the TEC buildings will be sanitized in accordance with the Ministry of Health cleaning guidelines on the compound over the next two days. Employees at that location will be required to work remotely or from home over the next two days.
“The respective employees will be contacted by the Covid-19 taskforce and go through the established protocols for contact tracing,” the country manager said.
Hull however reaffirmed the none of Flow’s employees had tested positive for Covid-19.
Six new Covid-19 cases were recorded in SVG in the past week, four of which were imported from high-risk countries.