Public urged to practice social distancing
FAITH LEADERS, event organisers and the public have been asked to implement social distancing measures in an effort to reduce the likelihood of further spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) locally.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Simone Keizer-Beache on Sunday said St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) still has one confirmed case of Covid-19. And this time should be spent ensuring that that figure is kept as close to one as possible.
The Ministry of Health also issued a release advising against mass gatherings and promoting the non-medical tactic of social distancing — a tactic also recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“Faith leaders are asked to be socially, culturally and spiritually flexible at this time and be proactive to protect themselves and their congregation,” the release said.
And as such, faith leaders have been advised to implement certain measures which include reducing the number of church services and to conduct services virtually if possible.
They are also advised to limit those attending church functions to a number that allows three to six feet of space between persons in a seated group (typically 25 or less).
“Keep already planned
weddings to a limited gathering of a maximum of 10 persons for the ceremony. The reception could be postponed,” the release said. “Postpone or cancel all non-essential social and cultural gatherings.”
he release also advises faith leaders to avoid visiting house-bound members, especially the elderly so as to reduce the risk of infection and to limit the number of persons attending funerals to immediate family members.
Speaking on the ‘Issue at Hand’ programme on We FM, Keizer-Beache said the likelihood of another imported case remains, as some Vincentians have returned home from overseas, even as flights to the country are decreasing as a result of restrictions imposed outside of SVG.
The CMO said as a people, we like to group together, but at this time, that inclination is particularly risky.
She said she would therefore like to recommend that we start thinking about and practicing social distancing.
The release, which is signed by the CMO advises that event organisers and the public ensure that there is no overcrowding at events so that people maintain at least three feet, but six feet if possible, between themselves.
“Hygiene and physical distancing must be combined. Shaking hands, kissing and hugging as forms of greeting should be avoided. Consider smiling, waving or bumping elbows,” it said.
And event organisers should keep patrons informed consistently and constantly.
Members of the public are also called to “avoid the lunchroom rush if you eat in the employee dining room, cafeteria, or a restaurant”.
“Eat earlier or later, eat at home or eat with just a few people in a quiet area, inside or out,” it said. “Avoid using public pens at the retail counter, at the building or hotel guest registration, at the bank, in the revenue office, and other public places. Use your own pen. In conference rooms, don’t use the public whiteboard markers. Carry your own.”
Other guidelines include avoiding commuter rush periods where possible, if one uses public transportation. And employers are also being encouraged to stagger starting times for work and allowing work from home and to substitute tele-meetings for face to face meetings and use larger conference rooms if meeting face to face is a must.
Keizer-Beache said on Sunday that the goal is to decrease the risk of transmission and church leaders, as well as members of the congregation and the public on a whole, have a role to play.
“We are working with funeral homes in trying to support them, also for protecting their employees,” she said.
The CMO recommended that the funeral homes, church leaders and relatives of the bereaved work together.
Keizer-Beache called on the public to take responsibility for their own safety and added, “maybe now is not the best time to have a big fete or a mass party, because we really want to keep Vincentians, keep each other safe… and by decreasing the amount of mingling, that is going to help us.”