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NEMO director urges residents of volcano danger zones to get vaccinated

NEMO director urges residents of volcano danger zones to get vaccinated

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THE DIRECTOr of the National Emergency Management Organization- NEMO- Michelle Forbes is strongly recommending that persons who live in the red and orange volcano hazard zones get vaccinated.

“..If you are living in the red and orange zones now and you know that you have to be evacuated, I will strongly recommend that you take the vaccine,” Forbes said on the ‘Round Table Talk’ programme yesterday, March 31.

This caution comes in light of the fact that La Soufriere volcano has been erupting effusively since December, 2020, and the possibility exists that the eruption could move to an explosive stage. In such an event, evacuees will mix with others, in a communal setting, the Director commented, and “we don’t know where the virus is.”

“..It (the vaccine) can reduce the severity of the virus affecting you. So persons in the red and orange zone I really wanna make an appeal for you. You know you have to evacuate, I strongly recommend that you take the vaccine,” she urged.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves also made a plea to the public, calling in on NBC radio yesterday, March 31.

“I’m urging everybody to follow the protocols in relation to the Covid, and to take the vaccine. Because you’re going into shelters, you need to have all the requisite protection, and let’s not allow the vaccine to go to waste,” he pleaded.

on ‘Round Table Talk’ Forbes also fielded questions from the public about whether the shelters have prepared for the Covid-19 element. She responded that there will be Covid-19 protocols in effect at emergency shelters, and persons will be required to wear a mask at all times except when sleeping. The number of persons assigned to shelters has been reduced to accommodate spacing.

“When you’re coming to the emergency shelter in this Covid environment, those persons who would have already had their vaccine, you have to have your vaccine card to indicate that you have been vaccinated,” after which they will be registered and enter the shelter.

“But other persons who have not had their vaccine, they will be given a rapid test,” to determine their status at that time.

The NEMO Director also answered a question on whether there are currently plans to evacuate off island should an explosive eruption occur, and she indicated that there are none.

“There has not been an eruption where we have had to evacuate persons off island, and from the scientific information that we are seeing and from the historical information that is available, we have not had to evacuate persons off island,” she disclosed.

Adding, “we certainly have the Grenadines too if we need to take persons off of mainland St Vincent.”

Last week, beginning on March 23, a period of elevated seismicity was recorded by the scientists monitoring La Soufriere, but this has been confi rmed to have ended on March 26. Since then, only low frequency events associated with dome growth has been recorded.

Speaking on the ‘Round Table Talk’ program yesterday, Geologist, Professor Richard Robertson who is leading the team that is monitoring the volcano noted “from satellite imagery the footprint of the dome hasn’t changed in any significant way”, and suggested that the way in which it is growing is continuing on its established pattern.

“..It doesn’t seem so far, that the elevation in seismicity we had about a week ago has made any fundamental changes as far as the rate at which things are happening at the summit. Of course we haven’t done a dome survey yet so we’re not absolutely sure about the change in the volume, but that’s something that we hope to do within the next week.”