No Covid-19 detected to date among persons in emergency shelters
Up to the morning of April 12, the fourth day following the evacuation order from the danger zones around the volcano, no Covid-19 positive cases had been discovered in emergency shelters from the rapid antigen testing of evacuees.
On the other hand, on Sunday April 11, 14 new Covid-19 cases from the South Leeward district were announced.
The Chief Medical Officer, Dr Simone Keizer-Beache, provided this information to Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves yesterday, April 12, on the NBC radio.
“We are pretty concerned because we have noticed maybe over the past couple of weeks we have been getting more and more cases from the South Leeward; Barrouallie, Pembroke area,” Keizer-Beache informed.
However, she confirmed, “In the shelters we have been doing rapid antigen testing and as yet we have not picked up any positive cases in the shelters.”
A few vaccinations against the deadly respiratory virus have been administered; “each shelter maybe between six to maximum eight persons.”
Vaccination is not mandatory.
“…But we continue to advocate for and try to encourage, especially with what we are seeing in the community now, in places where persons have been evacuated to,” the CMO continued.
If there is to be an uptick in positive cases of the virus caused by the increased gatherings over the four-day Easter weekend, the health authorities are expecting to see that manifested this week.
The Prime Minister questioned whether hoteliers and guesthouses that have fixed taking the vaccine as a requirement, could be persuaded to accept guests in more dire situations from the shelter who don’t want to take the vaccine, but will be tested. He mentioned “very elderly people, some people with disabilities, pregnant women in their last stages more or less, and their immediate families, some families with some children…”
However, the senior health official noted that this would be very difficult because the testing would have to be continuous, “As you know we test today, and you could be positive tomorrow.”
“…I would prefer that we maybe identify some other shelters or maybe where we could do some better accommodation for some of those persons,” she submitted.
The health authorities have a team, that has been gathering names, she said.
She disclosed, “some persons have been so adamant about the fact that they would not be vaccinated and some of those persons are in the worst situation in terms of needing [the vaccine].”
The Prime Minister stated, “I want to urge persons again, please, take the vaccine, it’s available, it’s safe, and it would help us get over this problem during the volcanic eruption, easier, better and we’d get back on a more normal road thereafter.”
The CMO did the same, commenting, “Definitely because this would help to avert a disaster on a disaster.” Once Covid-19 exists in the community, there’s a major risk for a flare up.
Another facet of the ongoing volcanic eruptions is that primary healthcare facilities have to be supplied with water, which is currently in limited supply.
The Central Water and Sewerage Authority(CWSA) has kept the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH) connected, but there are challenges with places such as the Argyle Isolation Facility and the Mental Health and Rehabilitation Centre (MHRC).
“We have been working with NEMO(the National Emergency Management Organization) and CWSA to get those tanks filled, so for the night we have been working on that,” the CMO explained.