St Vincent will not close borders due to COVID-19 — Gonsalves

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St Vincent will not close borders due to COVID-19 — Gonsalves

Thursday, March 12, 2020

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KINGSTOWN, St Vincent (CMC) — Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves says this country will not close its borders due to the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the United States and other countries.

St Vincent has implemented a 14-day quarantine for passengers arriving from a number of countries in Asia and Europe that have been significantly impacted by the virus, which has claimed more than 3,000 lives globally.

“A big danger is facing us: coronavirus. We have to be careful that we don't get hysterical about it. Some people getting hysterical,” Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told supporters of his Unity Labour Party at its West Kingstown constituency conference on Sunday.

“In addressing this, we have to contain the problem. We have to manage the problem. And we have to find a resolution if anybody gets it in St Vincent and the Grenadines. But we can't close ourselves off from the world,” he said.

He said that 4,000 people were in quarantine in New York at the time, and there were 400 confirmed cases of COVID-19 there.

St Vincent has a large diaspora in New York, which is believed to be home to more Vincentians than the 110,000 people living on the island.

“But let me ask this question. We have a lot of people in New York. They're coming home to visit the family. You want tell me I could stop them from coming to St Vincent and the Grenadines.”

While St Vincent has no confirmed cases of the illness, the prime minister said his government would take certain measures to contain the virus.

“You see there are a lot of people who talk and don't think. Is not an easy business; is a complicated question,” Gonsalves said.

He said that the economies of the Caribbean are already suffering because people do not want to travel amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.

“And in some cases, we are preventing some people from coming in, depending on the circumstances. But if this thing spread wild in America, and this thing spread wild in Canada, and spread wild in England — in the United Kingdom — those three places you get the most tourists, what are we going to do?

“Are we going to lock off ourselves from the world or do we have to use some other kind of more carefully articulated strategies of containment?”

Prime Minister Gonsalves also said that the country has to make sure it has better border control.

“Because I will tell you this — a public health hazard, too, is if you have a problem where people lose their work because of the virus and they have an increase in problems and more violence and break-ins happen. That is also a public health problem.

“So you have to have people who lead and who could analyse the problem very carefully,” he said.


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