KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has described as “hilarious… like it’s Comedy Central”, the recent travel advisory issued by the United States advising its citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries including St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“What is laughable though, is that the United States put out an advisory, the thing is … hilarious. I mean, like it’s Comedy Central. Imagine the United States of America, their authorities said you must have an advisory to all the CARICOM countries that you must go only if it’s essential travel; all except Haiti and Guyana and I think Suriname,” said Gonsalves, who also chairs the 15-member regional integration grouping.
Speaking on the state-owned NBC radio, Gonsalves also noted that the bulletin also advises against travel to Barbados, St. Lucia, Grenada, “all these countries which are doing quite well”.
Gonsalves made the comment after noting the impact of COVID-19 on St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which, as of Saturday, had recorded 57 cases of the viral infection, 55 of whom have recovered.
He told radio listeners that there have been no COVID-related deaths here and that two persons who were placed at the state-run isolation facility were so warded because of recalcitrance rather than severe illness.
He contrasted this to the United States, which took 99 days to reach its first million cases and another 16 days to record four million cases.
“And they are now on to five million. The United States of America has 4.2 per cent of the world’s population; they have 25 per cent of all the COVID deaths in the world,” Gonsalves said, adding that he had seen an interview in which US President, Donald Trump, had claimed that his country was doing well in the management of the illness.
Gonsalves said that the journalist, however, pointed out that this was not the case.
“So President Trump says, ‘But we are doing the best. I have the documents.’ And he’s flipping through … and as he’s flipping through, he comes to a page, he said, ‘Look it here: the rest of the world, so many cases, the United States, so many cases, you see, I tell you, we are better than the rest of the world.
“But the number he’s using in the rest of the world in the aggregate,” Gonsalves said, adding “there are 7.5 billion people in the world. So, 7.2 billion is the statistic which is used in the aggregate against 3.2, 3.3 billion — that means million in the United States. As I say 4.2 per cent of the population as against 95.8 per cent”.
Gonsalves said that the journalist pointed out to Trump that infections and death per 100,000 population is a better measurement.
“He said, ‘No, no, no, no, no, no; that’s not a proper measurement.’ Why is it not the proper measurement? ‘Everybody knows it’s not a proper measurement.’ So says the president of the richest country in the world.”
Gonsalves said that when the United States puts out an advisory “like that, any other advisory, any other report they put out, people will say, Well, this is a joke. Because when you impugn your credibility with such an absurdity…”
He said that there are 192 countries in the United Nations in addition to some non-independent jurisdictions in the world.
“Only 11 of them out of the 200 are in level one and level two, which either you can go with normal precautions, or just take a little bit more precaution?
“Well, if we are level three, with our numbers, you have to get a different category for America,” he said, referring to the US rank of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in its three-scale level in which three is the worst.
“There must be level five, where they don’t have a level five,” Gobsalves said, adding that some of his critics had cited the US ranking in questioning the island’s handling of the illness.
“But you don’t have to ask me that. People send you university, they pay for you to go university, you mean to tell me your brain is so vacant that you can’t see that what the fellows write there as an advisory is bare foolishness?” Gonsalves said.
“It doesn’t mean because the United States is powerful that if they do something, which doesn’t make any sense for logical people, that as a leader of an independent country I can’t say that,” Gonsalves said.