April 16, 2021
Being tested not a requirement for admission into emergency shelters – CMO

WHILE TESTING FOR Covid-19 and vaccination against the virus are voluntary, persons who have evacuated from the danger zone of La Soufriere are strongly being encouraged to do both. Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Simone Keizer-Beache yesterday rejected as falsehoods, reports that in order to be admitted to an emergency shelter, one would have to take a test for Covid-19.

“There is absolutely no truth in that; absolutely no truth. You come into the shelter because you need to be there. We are not going to say that you can’t go in. That is not true at all. That is not how it is. We ask that you be tested at some point; we ask … and if you are willing, we can vaccinate you. There is no testing or vaccination requirement to get into any shelter in St Vincent and the Grenadines,” the CMO reiterated while speaking on NBC Radio on Thursday morning.

Keizer-Beache however said both testing and vaccination are strongly recommended because the majority of people who have Covid-19 may not exhibit any symptoms.

“And throughout the world, we all know now that the majority of persons are asymptomatic. But what we also know is that asymptomatic persons, one-third of the persons who are Covid positive end up with Long Covid, meaning they end up with problems with their lungs, diabetes, chronic brain fog… neurological abnormalities; so that they might have persistent headaches and so on. So even though you don’t get the fever, cough and cold, which would be the typical symptoms of Covid, once you contract the Covid, you have a one in three chance of having long term effects.”

She pleaded with the public to agree to be tested.

“We really want us to know. Let us find out who has it by testing. It is voluntary, but it is for everybody’s benefit. You want to protect yourself and persons around you in that group in the shelter or where you are staying. Or if you have brought persons into your home, you need to know what your status is.

Keizer-Beache said if people wait for symptoms before they agree to be tested, they may be putting others at risk. She said the most infectious period of a Covid-19 infection is the 24 to 28 hour period before symptoms start.

The CMO said early testing and consistent mask wearing are important.

“So for the two to three days before the fever comes up or before the loss of smell, they have been walking around talking, interacting with persons allowing the virus to spread.

“…We have to wear the mask. And even the advice coming out of the CDC recently was that sanitization, the cleaning of surfaces was less of a key measure; rather the mask, you need to wear your mask. We know now that proper use of a mask allows for that separation, reduces the likelihood of spread.

“So the testing is voluntary, the vaccination is voluntary, we have sufficient testing supplies, we have sufficient vaccination supplies. We are really encouraging everybody. Let us work together to prevent a second catastrophe.”

Keizer-Beache’s appeal came one day after five persons who had evacuated from the danger zone of La Soufriere tested positive for Covid-19. Three of these persons were in evacuation shelters, while two were in private homes.