by Linda Straker
- Friday night flight did not originate from China in recent travel history
- Measures to combat Covid-19 transmission include an Importation Transmission Watch, travel restriction list of countries and strict enforcing of mandatory quarantine of persons entering Grenada from at-risk countries
Health Minister, Nickolas Steele, has explained that the passengers on the private aircraft that landed at Maurice Bishop International Airport on Friday night at 9 pm did not originate from China in recent travel history, nor were they coming from any of the other Covid-19 hot spots, flagged by the Grenada Airports Authority (GAA).
“A private plane landed. None of the individuals onboard have been to the hotspots or countries on our travel restriction list within the last 14 days,” said Steele. He confirmed that all the passengers were screened by port health workers before they received the approval to enter Grenada by an immigration officer, as is done with other passengers from other aircraft.
He did not provide the original territories where the flight originated or transited, since, according to the minister, that information lies with the Grenada Airports Authority.
In a follow-up interview Prime Minister, Dr Keith Mitchell, dismissed as categorically false and mischievous that he has anything to do with which planes land at the airport. Dr Mitchell stated that he has had no knowledge of this plane landing and this has nothing to do with him.
Dr Mitchell went on to state that he has been busy protecting the national front from this pandemic, trying to ensure that Grenadians stay safe and that the economy survives through this crisis. Stating that the jurisdiction for airports falls under the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the Prime Minister said that he is assured that the ministry and management of the airport are following strict protocols, even more so at this time when we are trying to ensure we manage well the global pandemic that is Covid-19.
As part of Grenada’s preparedness, measures to combat transmission of Covid-19 include an Importation Transmission Watch, travel restriction list of countries and strict enforcing of mandatory quarantine of persons entering Grenada from at-risk countries.
In a national midday address on Friday, 13 March, Dr Mitchell announced that Grenada has entered a new phase in managing and preparing for the Covid-19 virus. As of Saturday, 14 March there was no confirmed cases on the island, but 2 persons who passed through Grenada for short periods were later tested and confirmed positive in other countries.
One of the persons is the first confirmed case in St Lucia. She is a UK citizen, and the second is a citizen of Canada, who was a cruise passenger.
To safeguard the population against the pandemic and contain this disease, Grenada will be closing all schools for 2 weeks in the first instance, adopting social distancing, and suspending visits to elderly nursing homes and prison visitations.
In providing justification for the measure, the Prime Minister explained in his address that social distancing is a new term in the fight against Covid-19. According to the experts, the virus is contracted from droplets when an infected person speaks, coughs or sneezes, and either drops on a surface or on a person within a 6-foot radius.
“We are, therefore, requesting that all public and other social gatherings, such as cultural, religious and sporting events, cinemas and other places that people gather, that cannot guarantee a minimum of 6 feet of social distancing, be suspended, until further notice,” he said.
He further advised citizens that it is paramount that there is protection as much as possible for all citizens, particularly the elderly as they are most susceptible to die in this outbreak. “We are taking no chances and making no gambles on people lives. In this regard, therefore, effective immediately, all visits to elderly nursing homes will be suspended until further notice. Those who are receiving at-home care are to exercise extreme caution,” he said.