Police officials in Grenada are concerned about what appears to be an increasing number of immigrants from Venezuela and CARICOM nations illegally entering the country, particularly as the country tries to prevent community spread of the virus.
Commissioner of Police Edvin Martin disclosed on Tuesday that for the first quarter of 2021, 15 illegal immigrants were held. There were only 20 illegal entries recorded for all of 2020.
“We do not know how many have escaped the law enforcement gaze. We do not know how many might be circulating within our society, and hence the call for us to continue exercising vigilance,” he told journalists during the weekly post-Cabinet briefing.
“It could be a travesty if any such person circulating in our community is positive with a [COVID-19] strain that can potentially affect our population.”
Five Venezuelans along with a Trinidadian appeared before the court on Tuesday morning to answer charges of entering the country without the permission of an immigration officer.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Shawn Charles said health officials were extremely worried about that development.
“The Ministry of Health is very concerned because we do have examples from other territories where illegal entry into the country has played a huge part in the establishment of community spread there, and these countries have not been able to get past these events and the populations are right now experiencing some difficulties as a result of that,” he said.
“We have been able to exert a high level of control, but we always want people to remember that not everyone who enters Grenada enters through our net.
“So, it is never accurate to say, ‘well we have no COVID-19, why can’t we do this?’. It is more accurate to say no known cases because we may have some that may escape our control measures,” Dr Charles added.
Since the start of the pandemic, Grenada has confirmed 155 cases of COVID-19. There has been one death.