Two of the passengers who arrived on Saturday on an American Airlines flight from Miami to St Vincent have tested positive for Covid-19.
This was revealed by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves earlier today as he appealed to all 154 passengers from that flight to adhere to the quarantine orders of the Ministry of Health.
Yesterday’s flight was the first scheduled flight into the Argyle International Airport since regular flights ceased at the end of March.
During a call to the ‘Issue at Hand’ programme on We FM, the Prime Minister said Covid-19 PCR tests on the passengers were done at the local laboratory on Saturday night and the results verified on Sunday morning by the CARPHA laboratory in Trinidad and Tobago.
Gonsalves said the passengers who tested positive have been informed and they are “very responsible” people who are not sick, and are “contained in their house”.
He said contact tracing in relation to these persons has begun.
“…The Ministry of Health is doing all that they are doing in relation to checking who was sitting next to them and so forth. We have all that information. They are very good at doing this tracing, because as you know, we have to manage the risk carefully and properly.”
While saying that most of the passengers have been staying in quarantine as ordered, the Prime Minister however made a strong appeal to those who were not.
He said he heard that on Saturday night, some of the persons who arrived on the flight went to Mangoz, a popular bar and restaurant on the Villa beach strip, and others went to church this morning.
“These are persons who came from the US who are under the specific quarantine,” Gonsalves said.
He said some passengers were told that they would be under quarantine for at least 24 hours, and others, because they come from a high risk group, would be there for 14 days.
“The Ministry has its own metrics, measurements, everything,” the Prime Minister said.
“I am just asking everyone coming in, listen to the Ministry of Health. The point is this….The authorities don’t want to take you before the court for you to be dealt with by the court if you are breaking the quarantine; disobeying the … medical officer of health or the chief medical officer. You have to abide by the quarantine, please!
“If the police come for you this morning and take you … down to the barracks, to hold you there till tomorrow to take you to the court, how would you feel?”
He said St Vincent and the Grenadines is a small country, and the authorities have been trying to use moral suasion to get people to follow what is taking place.
“But they must just listen. Follow the instructions. Even if they don’t read the document that is given to them, they know; some of them in the US know, in fact they hear it.”
Gonsalves said the offenders would listen to Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York or the mayor of New York City Bill deBlasio, but do not want to listen to the authorities in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
He said most persons are following the regulations, but there are a few who are creating a problem.
“If you do that, you are going to put the country in a position where they are going to have to take even more stringent measures. He asked what is so difficult for persons to wait 24 hours as requested.
The Prime Minister commended officials from the ministry of health, the immigration department, the security officials and the police force, who he said cleared all 154 passengers in just one and a half hours.
He said the State had acted properly in getting the tests done and verified.
“The only area which is left now for the State to act is for the authorities to the send police for those persons and take them up and let them spend the time in the police station, today until tomorrow when they go to court.
“But one does not want to do that. We want to build a culture of compliance and reasonableness. … So I am making that appeal … I am not making joke on this. Please cooperate with us.”
The number of Covid-19 positive cases recorded in the country now stands at 31, with two of those being active.
Prior to yesterday’s cases, the last positive case was recorded on June 16 and all of those cases had recovered.