Closing island’s ports a tough decision- PM

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet says closing-down the island’s borders is easier said than done, as that would be fatally costly to the tourism-dependent economy.

So, while cruise ships will not be calling at the island’s ports of entry over the next month, some will remain open, but with tighter docking and clearance requirements and applicable health and safety mechanisms to enhance testing and prevent further introduction of COVID-19 by visitors.

In a detailed address to an emergency meeting of the National Emergency Management Advisory Committee (NEMAC) on Monday attended by Cabinet Ministers among other stakeholders, Prime Minister Chastanet offered a ball-by-ball account of where the island has come in its fight against COVID-19 since January.

Admitting that the threat level was only officially heightened earlier this month after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a Global Pandemic, the PM said the new coronavirus has a lot of similarities with a hurricane.

Assessing the global impact of the virus, Chastanet said, “the number of cases will always eventually overwhelm any country’s capacity to handle its spread’ and in cases where action isn’t taken early enough, it could also eventually ‘shut-down the global economy.”

He noted that in the USA, Covid-19 had so overwhelmed the national health service that while just over one million people need face masks, there simply aren’t enough.

Chastanet said that on a worldwide per-country basis, ‘one out of every five persons’ (20% of populations) will be statistically affected, out of which 80% will need hospitalization.

He also referred to adverse panic reactions becoming more evident due to the overwhelming effect of the virus on entire societies, as in neighboring Martinique, where the number of infections continues to rise quickly and citizens of the French island are resorting to extreme tactics to prevent entry of visitors.