Grenada on Friday blamed community spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in several CARICOM countries on the decision to amend the Quarantine COVID-19 regulations that will legally remove the term “CARICOM Bubble” and at the same time increase, the minimum number of days in entry quarantine to seven for all incoming passengers.
“The CARICOM Bubble” has burst, it’s not what we will like it to be,” Health Minister Nickolas Steele told the House of the Representative after presenting the amended resolution for approval.
In September, Grenada gazetted regulations providing for nationals from member CARICOM states to enter the island with only a negative PCR test and no quarantine period. However, Steele said that in recent weeks several regional states began experiencing community spread of the virus.
The change to the entry protocol for CARICOM states is part of measures aimed at controlling and containing the spread of the COVID-19 here. Worldwide, COVID-19 has infected and caused the death of millions. There is currently no vaccine for the virus which was discovered in the later part of 2019.
“There is community spread in some islands and we are unable to find a common entry protocol,” Steele said, telling legislators that some countries have entry protocols that are stronger or weaker when compared to what is in effect in Grenada.
“We are making adjustments to the protocols based on current science,” Steele added.
Currently, Grenada has three active COVID-19 cases but recorded 28 laboratory-confirmed cases since the first person was diagnosed in March. The island is one of six regional islands classified by the US Centre for Disaster Control as having a very low risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Tourism Minister Dr Clarice Modeste supported the amendment to the regulations while expressing her disappointment that CARICOM cannot agree to a common protocol for all the islands as part of the new normal created by COVID-19.
“This will no doubt affect the tourism sector…but we have to protect our people,” she said.
Opposition Leader, Tobias Clement also supported the amendment describing it as in the best of the nation’s health.
CARICOM leaders met on Thursday to discuss the continued impact of the virus on their countries, but to date, they have not disclosed the outcome of their deliberations.
Steele said that there will continuous assessment and review of the islands based on cases and those with less than 20 cases per 100,000 population in 14 days will require PCR test and quarantine for a minimum of 7 days. The in-island PCR test will continue to be done on the fourth day.
Previously the minimum number of entry quarantine days was four days.