Village in panic
Over 30 persons from at least seven households in a rural seaside village are now in mandatory quarantine after a homeowner there tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday.
And several others have voluntarily decided to self-quarantine, fearful that they too have been exposed to the virus. “Everyone is panicking,” a resident of the village told SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday, hours after the Ministry of Health announced that St Vincent and the Grenadines had recorded its second confirmed case of COVID-19.
And yesterday, the Covid-19 positive woman was under 24-hour police guard in her home, after she did not self-quarantine as ordered, and was observed in public for several days after her arrival in St Vincent last week.
“The police were there all [Wednesday] night, and they are still there now,” the resident said on Thursday afternoon.
The Ministry of Health said the sample which tested positive was taken from a female patient who had travelled to St Vincent and the Grenadines from the United States on March 25, 2020.
“The patient (and all the other passengers on her flight) was in mandatory quarantine from the time of her arrival in SVG. She reported symptoms on March 28, when a sample was taken for COVID-19,” the release from the Ministry of Health said.
However the resident said the entire village should be shut down as the patient did not remain in quarantine, but for two days, “walked the whole of … [the village], hugging and kissing people.”
“They should lock down the whole of [the village],” she opined.
According to the resident, the woman, who has lived in the United States for several years remained in Kingstown for two days after arriving in the country on March 25.
On March 27, she travelled by minivan to the picturesque north eastern village, where she owns a house.
“She took the same van as me on Friday afternoon, and she was coughing all the time. She was wearing a mask, but she kept coughing,” the resident said.
It is not clear where the woman stayed while in Kingstown, but SEARCHLIGHT has confirmed that during that time, she visited several business places in the capital, including the SVG Ports Authority, the customs and excise department, a shipping agency and at least one hardware store.
Another resident told SEARCHLIGHT that while in Kingstown, the patient cleared several barrels she had shipped from the United States. These barrels, the second resident said, were delivered to the patient’s home on Friday night.
“When the barrels arrived, she had persons at her home drinking…,” the second resident said, adding that a relative of hers assisted the woman with offloading the barrels from the truck.
The second resident agreed that the entire village is scared. “Everybody feels that they were exposed, everybody feels they are at risk, because even if you did not have direct contact with her, you know of someone who had direct contact with her.”
According to the first resident, on Friday and Saturday, the woman visited almost every area of the village, including the village shops.
“She went to all the shops looking for a flashlight and batteries; she even went to private homes.
“She’s been walking and talking…, even kissing children.”
According to the first villager, the patient lives alone, but at least two persons, a man and a woman, had stayed at the house with her since she arrived there.
The first resident said that villagers observed that the patient had a very bad cough, and were worried, so they informed the district nurse, who then reached out to the Covid-19 task force. Calls were apparently also made to the COVID-19 hotline (534-4325) by residents, following which, on Saturday, a team from the Ministry of Health visited the patient and took a swab for testing for COVID-19.
The first resident told SEARCHLIGHT that she and her entire family, as well as about 24 other people in the village, have now been quarantined for 14 days. “They said they (the health officials) will come to visit us and take our temperature,” she said.
She reiterated that the entire village is scared, as almost everyone had been exposed to the patient.
The release from the Ministry of Health said on being tested, the returning national “was maintained in isolation,” but there are reports that this may not have been the case; police guards were only put in place on Wednesday night.
“CARPHA reported the laboratory test confirming a positive result today at approximately 12:34 pm. The patient has already been told of her test result, and the process of informing other contacts has commenced. Public health measures will continue with the identification of additional contacts and the implementation of additional quarantine where necessary.”
The van which transported the patient to village last Friday has been taken off the road for two weeks, SEARCHLIGHT has confirmed. Its driver and conductor, as well as the other passengers, are among the residents of the village who are now in mandatory quarantine.