COVID-19 pandemic in Grenada

The COVID-19 pandemic in Grenada is part of the ongoing global viral pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which was confirmed to have reached Grenada on March 22, 2020. Despite lockdowns and social distancing protocols, it appeared to have reached the level of community spread within one month.[5]

COVID-19 pandemic in Grenada
Grenada on the globe (Americas centered).svg
DiseaseCOVID-19
Virus strainSARS-CoV-2
LocationGrenada
Arrival date16 March 2020
(2 months and 6 days)
Confirmed cases23[1]
Active cases5[2]
Recovered18[3]
Deaths
0[4]

BackgroundEdit

On 12 January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that a novel coronavirus was the cause of a respiratory illness in a cluster of people in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, which was reported to the WHO on 31 December 2019.[6][7]

The case fatality ratio for COVID-19 has been much lower than SARS of 2003,[8][9] but the transmission has been significantly greater, with a significant total death toll.[10][8] Like most countries, Grenada had increased screening at the airport in early February and begun sending test samples to CARPHA.[11]

TimelineEdit

March 2020Edit

  • March 22—The country's first case ("Patient Zero") was announced, a 50-year-old female patient who returned from the United Kingdom on March 16 and subsequently became sick on March 17, and was officially diagnosed on March 21.[12]
  • March 25—Six more cases announced (5 female, 1 male, ages 50–80), all from Patient Zero's household. The government institutes policy of restricted movement and nightly curfew.[13]
  • March 28—Two more cases announced (2 female, ages 50–80), one sat nearby Patient Zero on the March 16 flight; another had relatives visiting from New York City, arrived March 17. The one who sat near Patient Zero on the March 16 flight was a 50-year-old male who became symptomatic on March 26, was tested in Grenada and told to self-quarantine while awaiting the results. Instead, he fled with his family via an Air Canada flight en route back to the UK before the test results were returned (which were a positive diagnosis).[14]
  • March 29—Government announces 24-hour curfew for one week[15]

April 2020Edit

  • April 1— One new case announced—a 58-year-old male who arrived on a flight from New York City on March 19[16]
  • April 3— Two new cases announced. One was a 73-year-old male whose spouse had been diagnosed and announced on March 28 (sat near Patient Zero on the March 16 flight from the UK); the other patient was a taxi driver who had interacted with a previously diagnosed patient[17]
  • April 6— Government renews curfew/lockdown for another two weeks (through April 20). Tests are now being done at St. George's University.[18]
  • April 10— Two cases announced, all from households of previous cases (total= 14 positive, 92 tests in total).[19]
  • April 18— Government extended the 24-hour curfew for an additional week (through April 27), although with increased exceptions during designated "shopping" days and expectation of relaxing the curfew after this final curfew period.[20]
  • April 20— Case #15: First potential case of community spread announced by Minister Nickolas Steele, in which an individual had been admitted to the General Hospital and tested positive on the rapid (antibody) test (confirmed via PCR on 22-April as Case #15).[21][22] The 45 year-old-man initially tested negative via the rapid test, then positive in a subsequent test later on. Several samples were then tested via PCR on island (at St. George's University) and via CARPHA, the results of which were indeed positive.
  • April 25— Three new cases were announced, two from the workplace of Case #15 and one unrelated. The two workers (male, ages 62 an 59) were found through contact-tracing. The third case was a 50-year-old female that had arrived on-island on March 16, subsequently self-quarantined, and then requested a test on her own initiative, despite not exhibiting any symptoms.[23] This 18th case has raised suspicion as to whether it was actually import-related (38 days after having arrived) or whether she acquired it in Grenada. Two of her roommates also tested positive for antibodies, suggesting they had the virus previously and since recovered.[24] These additional cases were not added to the official case tally.
  • April 28— One new case announced (another workplace colleague of Case #15); additionally, 3 new cases recovered (totaling 10 recovered now, 8 active, 1 off-island).[25]
  • April 29— 20th case announced (a 54 year old female relative of one of the previous workplace cases), along with 3 recoveries of previous cases.[26] This marks five workers testing positive from the Caribbean Agro flour factory in Tempe, St. George's.[27]

May 2020Edit

  • May 2— Case #21 announced, another one from the Tempe factory (related to Case #15), this time a male in his early 20s-- the youngest patient yet, and one who was asymptomatic and initially tested negative (two rapid tests are typically given over a few days and this individual tested positive on the second time and then positive with a subsequent PCR test).[28]
  • May 10— with no additional cases, government announced a relaxation of the curfew and semi-regular business operations starting Monday, May 11.[29]
  • May 15— Grenada recorded its 22nd positive Covid-19 patient - an asymptomatic 8 year old female (the youngest case yet), also related to case #15.[30]
  • May 25— A returned cruise-ship worker who had been quarantined upon repatriation on May 24 tested positive. Since the case had been quarantined upon arrival, it did not change current reopening efforts, but Minister Steele warned that cases like this will continue as the country opens up, so the main focus is on identifying and containing it each time.[31]


PreventionEdit

The government of Prime minister Keith Mitchell instituted a series of increasingly tightening social distancing and quarantine policies that eventually led to a full country lockdown. Prior to the island's first case (but in anticipation of it occurring), schools and public gatherings were banned and social distancing encouraged on March 14.[32] It was known that at least three persons who later tested positive to Covid-19 elsewhere had traveled through Grenada.[33] Following the first confirmed case on March 22, the airport was closed to commercial traffic and remained closed indefinitely.[34][35]

 
Shopping Lines in St. George's, Grenada during the COVID-19 pandemic

On March 25, emergency powers were implemented to restrict movement and nightly curfews.[36] Businesses unable to enforce social distancing were ordered to be closed (e.g., many restaurants and bars became take-out only). These were quickly revised into a full, 24-hour lockdown on March 30, where all citizens were to remain in their homes and all business were closed except essential services described in the act.[37] Specific grocery days were permitted under control of the RGPF, and various changes were experimented with how to effectively handle shopping days (e.g., surname days, times for senior citizens, etc.).[38] The first 24-hour period was to last one week, but following continued exposure of new cases, it was expanded for two additional weeks (thru April 20),[39], then another week (now with relaxed protocols),[40] and again for a fifth week (thru May 5).[41][a] On April 18, Emergency Powers were officially extended an additional six months, solely as a precaution should new cases arise (rather than have them expire every few weeks).[42]

As faster testing (e.g., antibody tests) became available through the help of St. George's University and Venezuela,[43] the government became increasingly confidant in very low (if any) community spread.[44] While the PM has mentioned June as an anticipated full internal opening (still keeping borders closed), the low spread of the disease has encouraged the RGPF to offer increasing exceptions to the lockdown rules. By April 18, government relayed their expectation to relax the 24-hour curfew period after April 27, since they had then tested 116 PCR and 82 "rapid" (antibody) tests, with no new cases discovered (although widespread testing will continue).[45] Indeed, they also announced that 7 of the infected persons had now recovered.[46]

However, this attitude of victory soon changed on April 20. At the start of the relaxed-curfew week (April 20–24), the RGPF made a morning press conference clarifying the businesses allowed to open and general protocols for the next week, which included opening parish boundaries for the first time in four weeks.[47] Many people rightly treated this as the start of a reopening period. But at noon, Minister Nickolas Steele made an emergency announcement that a new patient (Case #15) had been admitted to the General Hospital on April 19, exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19 and tested positive for the rapid (antibody) test.[48] After two days of waiting, the patient was confirmed positive via multiple PCR tests.[49] Since the individual—as far as is known—had not traveled, nor been in contact with anyone who had traveled, nor been in contact with any positive cases, it appeared to be the first case of community spread, likely acquired from an undiagnosed, asymptomatic case. On April 25, the third such asymptomatic case was confirmed (like the others, considered "import-related"), along with two colleagues of Case #15.[50] It was also announced that 175 PCR and 1000 rapid tests had been conducted to date (April 25), including 69 employees from the workplace of Case #15 and 57 tests in Carriacou and Petite Martinique. By April 29, it was announced that 1200 rapid tests and 206 PCR tests had been conducted,[51] although the number of positive rapid tests was not released, as the official count is based solely on active cases confirmed via PCR.[52]

By May 5th, 309 PCR and 1472 Rapid tests had been conducted, which were then expanded for several rounds of testing of the factory in Tempe (related to Case #15).[53][54] These tests came back negative, confirming that community spread (if it occurred at all) had now abated. On May 12, the Ministry of Health reported they had conducted 412 PCR tests and 2007 rapid tests in total.[55] On May 15, upon announcing the 22nd positive case, Ministry of Health recorded 2459 rapid tests conducted and 454 PCR.[56] By May 25, contact-tracing investigations into Case #15 were said to be closed, with no further individuals having tested positive.[57] It remains unclear, however, whether Case #15 was indeed a case of community spread or someone at the factory had acquired the virus through interactions on the port.[58] The entire crew of at least one cargo vessel with whom Case #15 interacted with was tracked down and tested, but all were negative.[59]

With no new cases in over a week, Prime Minister Keith Mitchell announced a relaxation of the 24-hour curfew rules, with pre-approved businesses (e.g., grocery stores, banks, etc.) allowed to open every day again, beginning May 11, albeit with continued maintenance of a curfew from 7pm to 5pm.[60] Among other things, construction projects and landscaping could also restart, as could travel between the sister islands, although international borders would remain closed until early June.[61] Nonetheless, the ban on public buses remained in effect, limiting access to those who owned private vehicles, and restaurants remained take-out only.

These easements continued into the week of May 25, with the reopening of retail stores and beautification shops (e.g., hair salons and barbers), as well as public ferry service between Grenada and Carriacou. No date was given for opening the airport, but Minister Steele ensured the public that a two-week notice would precipitate the airport opening and that it would not happen until at least a "3 month supply" of rapid tests had been acquired on island.[62] Similarly, public buses were not yet allowed to recommence service, but it is expected that negotiations with the bus association on guidelines and protocols will be finalized before the end of the week.

Regional cooperationEdit

In instituting its response to the pandemic, the government of Grenada has worked in concert with PAHO, CARPHA, and regional governments. However, the closing of borders led to tension with St. Vincent's, where the government of Ralph Gonsalves was much more lax. On April 11, Gonsalves criticized Mitchell's treatment of Grenada's Grenadine Islands, stating "I want to say to the people of Carriacou & Petite Martinique that if you have difficulty in getting food, we can help"—to which Mitchell, when asked in a press briefing, called "grossly irresponsible."[63] The spat was a reminder of the historical tensions regarding ownership of the Grenadine islands.[b] Following a deadly fire on May 19 at Union Island's only petrol station, Grenada announced efforts were underway to offer daily refueling assistance.[67]

Economic effectsEdit

As with the rest of the world, the Coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on Grenada's economy, least not the ripple effects of a collapsed tourism industry. On March 20, 2020, the government announced a stimulus package to provide income support to small businesses, suspension of various taxes, and unemployment benefits to eligible citizens, which took about a month to fully roll out.[68] Seven sub-committees have also been set up to focus on the needs of tourism & citizen by investment, construction, education, small businesses, agriculture and fisheries, manufacturing, and e-commerce.[69] To help meet the short-falls, Grenada a received rapid loan of USD $22.4 million from the IMF, in a package aimed at the Eastern Caribbean countries of Dominica, Grenada, and St. Lucia,[70] more than doubling the previous USD $14.38 million Grenada owed to the lender.[71] Another loan of $5.9 million was secured through the Caribbean Development Bank.[72]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ It is worth mentioning that the word "curfew" has a heavy meaning for those that lived through the shoot-on-site curfew imposed at end of the Grenada Revolution.
  2. ^ All of the Grenadines had once been part of Grenada's political unit under both French and British colonial administrations. In 1783 (partly influenced by the temporary French re-capture of Grenada in 1779), the British decided to annex most of the Grenadines to St. Vincent’s oversight (from Bequia to Union).[64][65] After independence in 1979, the country included them in its official name, "St. Vincent and the Grenadines" (SVG). A referendum in 2016 that included (among many constitutional reforms) changing Grenada's official name to "Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique," failed despite the ruling party's total majority in parliament.[66]

ReferencesEdit

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  2. ^ GIS (25 May 2020). "COVID-19 Grenada's Report, May 25, 2020". Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  3. ^ GIS (25 May 2020). "COVID-19 Grenada's Report, May 25, 2020". Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  4. ^ GIS (18 April 2020). "No COVID-19 Deaths For Grenada". Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  5. ^ GIS (22 April 2020). "Statement by Dr. George Mitchell". Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  6. ^ Elsevier. "Novel Coronavirus Information Center". Elsevier Connect. Archived from the original on 30 January 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  7. ^ Reynolds, Matt (4 March 2020). "What is coronavirus and how close is it to becoming a pandemic?". Wired UK. ISSN 1357-0978. Archived from the original on 5 March 2020. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  8. ^ a b "Crunching the numbers for coronavirus". Imperial News. Archived from the original on 19 March 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  9. ^ "High consequence infectious diseases (HCID); Guidance and information about high consequence infectious diseases and their management in England". GOV.UK. Archived from the original on 3 March 2020. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  10. ^ "World Federation Of Societies of Anaesthesiologists – Coronavirus". www.wfsahq.org. Archived from the original on 12 March 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  11. ^ Straker, Linda (4 February 2020). "MBIA upscaling health protocols to handle coronavirus". Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  12. ^ Wong, Melissa (22 March 2020). "Grenada records first COVID-19 case". loopnewsbarbados. Retrieved 23 March 2020.
  13. ^ Government Information Service of Grenada (GIS) (25 March 2020). "Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations, 2020 - Closure Of Businesses And Expectations". Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  14. ^ Straker, Linda (3 April 2020). "WHO regulatory arm informed about Covid-19 patient who fled". Retrieved 12 April 2020.
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  43. ^ Government Information Service of Grenada (GIS) (11 April 2020). "Venezuela Lends To Grenada's Fight Against COVID-19". Retrieved 16 April 2020.
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  61. ^ "Grenada's Borders to be Opened in June, Pending Agreement on Requisite Protocols". GIS. 12 May 2020.
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  64. ^ Martin, John Angus (2013). Island Caribs and French Settlers in Grenada: 1498-1763. St George’s, Grenada: Grenada National Museum Press. p. 293. ISBN 9781490472003.
  65. ^ Martin, John Angus (28 April 2020). "The Grenadines Will Always Be Grenadian! (Because of Their Name)". Retrieved 29 April 2020.
  66. ^ "No Vote Dominates in Grenada's Constitutional Reform Referendum". Caricom Today. 25 November 2016. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
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  70. ^ IMF (28 April 2020). "IMF Executive Board Approves US$65.6 Million in Disbursements to Dominica, Grenada, and St. Lucia to Address COVID-19 Pandemic". Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  71. ^ "Grenada". IMF. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
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