No COVID-19 stigma
ST GEORGE’S, Grenada – Health Minister Nickolas Steele Tuesday appealed to citizens to stop displaying stigma to persons whose jobs put them in a higher risk of being exposed to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as well as those placed in quarantine others removing from the virus.
“If we stigmatise persons who appear to have symptoms or has a job that is high risk or they have just return after doing their quarantine, what we are going to be doing is to create an environment where others will be afraid to come forward and say they feel sick,” Steele told reporters.
“And we are actually going to make it worst for ourselves. Persons who have done their quarantine are pass and are safe to circulate among us and should not be treated differently, they have done their time, they have followed the protocols,” said the Health Minister, who also disclosed that one of the 45 cruise ship workers who arrived here over the last weekend had become the island’s 23rd positive case.
“Those who came in and do they quarantine, as far as Government is concern there was a risk of them being exposed and …one who tested positive was exposed through no fault of his or her own and we have to recognise that as a people,” Steele said.
He said stigma should only be displayed to those who are failing to apply the necessary health protocols such as not wearing a mask especially when they are out in public.
Steele later told reporters that the stigma is so great that it’s reminding some healthcare professionals about the early days of HIV/AIDS virus when many had to deal with this new epidemic.
“It’s seems to be a combination of fear and lack of information about COVID-19 that is causing some to stigmatise,” said Steele who confirmed that there are relatives of persons who are not pleased that Government is repatriating the cruise ship workers.
“There are people who want us to leave them out there, but we have an obligation to our citizens and will work to ensure that they get back home,” he said.
Since closing the external border for commercial passenger traffic in late March, Grenada has temporarily opened its port of entry at the Esplanade Cruise ship terminal for three different cruise ships which collectively bought home almost 100 workers.
All returning nationals must go through a screening process and are immediately tested for COVID-19 using a rapid test. The result of the rapid test will determine who immediately gets a PCR test however all passengers are quarantined for 14 in a government-run facility at an unknown location. During the quarantine period and immediately before it concludes, all persons are retested.
The returning cruise ship worker who tested positive were among 14 who were of concern to the Ministry when rapid test was administered upon arrival. (CMC)