Grenada on Tuesday announced a ban on persons entering the island with a travel history that includes visits to India and Brazil in the past 14 days as it seeks to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“This means that no one with a 14-day travel history from India or Brazil will be allowed to enter Grenada. Persons will have to spend the relevant time in a third-party state that will allow them to enter,” Health Minister Nickolas Steele told reporters at the end of the weekly Cabinet meeting.
He said that Cabinet had agreed to restrict travellers from these two countries on the advice of the COVID committee and chief medical officer. Both countries have reported a significant jump in COVID-19 infections, with India recording more than 20 million cases.
Grenada at present has one active imported asymptomatic case. Since the start of the pandemic, the island has recorded 161 cases with one death.
The island’s vaccination programme, which began on February 12, is ongoing and the authorities have reported that more than 13,000 people have received the first dose while more than 3,000 are fully vaccinated using the AstraZeneca vaccine.
But the health officials have openly expressed concern about the slow pace of vaccination which is provided for every citizen above the age of 18.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Shawn Charles said that a significant number of healthcare workers are hesitant to get vaccinated while several frontline workers in the tourism/hospitality sector are even refusing to be tested even though they have been classified as “potentially exposed.
“These individuals are defiance and are resisting testing,” Charles said during the briefing. He explained these workers are mainly those in the housekeeping department of hotels and other accommodations that are used to quarantine persons upon arrival to the island.
“Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to protect people from diseases,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Charles says the authorities have noticed that while there is now a policy in place allowing for fully vaccinated persons entering the island to spend 48 hours in quarantine, people are travelling as part of a group with unvaccinated persons.
“There are persons who are not vaccinated, and they do not carry the same level of protection against the disease. That is why if you have a mixed group and they cannot be separated they have to be treated as unvaccinated,” Dr. Charles said.
He said there were persons who may want to trick the system with fake documents like vaccine cards or PCR test results.
“We examine all vaccine cards at Ports of Entry and our health officers have the right to refuse that document if they think it’s not authentic. In addition, any document we believe that is not authentic we will follow up with the issuing country with the issuing agency while that person remains in quarantine,” he said.
“We also test all these individuals, these individuals get a PCR test on arrival,” he said while confirming that the cards that are issued by Grenada can also be subject to scrutiny by other states and once an inquiry is made, the answer will be provided easily because the names of all individuals who receive the COVID vaccine is logged into a system.
“So, questions as to whether someone from Grenada is vaccinated or not, they can simply make a call to us,” he added.