St. Vincent gearing for coronavirus

The St. Vincent and the Grenadines government Friday said while there is “reasonable likelihood” that the coronavirus (COVID-19) will reach the island, Kingstown has the capacity to “deal with any case that might arise”.

Three Caribbean countries have announced cases of the virus for which has killed more than 3,000 people worldwide and for which there is no known vaccine.

“I could tell you, that on a scale of one to 10, in terms of the priority that the Ministry has given to this thing is at 10”

“St. Vincent and the Grenadines has the capacity, right now, to deal with any case that might arise. So I think that we are tending in the right direction,” Health Minister Luke Browne told a news conference.

“I could tell you, that on a scale of one to 10, in terms of the priority that the Ministry has given to this thing is at 10 and it’s not at 10 because of the fact that is going to cause people to suffer in a way that is different from, say, the flu or some other infectious disease.

“But it’s at 10 because it gives us an opportunity to reinforce, well, first of all, to strengthen our health system and its capacity, and to reinforce messages related to good hygiene in general. And I think that that has the potential to spill over into our better response and treatment and engagement with other things that might arise from time to time,” he added.

Facilities for testing

Browne said that the government is putting into place facilities to test for the virus locally, noting that Dominica is the only Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) country that has such capacity at this time.

“The cabinet and government consider it to be an urgent matter. I’m hoping that maybe within this month, we might be able to go through all the stages of procurement, bringing on island and, and being able to carry out tests here,” Browne said.

He told reporters that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is “not going to be necessarily at a grave disadvantage in the meantime,’ adding that in addition to the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), Barbados can assist with testing.

Browne told reporters that St. Vincent and the Grenadines should be “approaching COVID-19 as if it is already here…and that’s what we’re doing.