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Islands struggle to adapt and quarantine absconds: Caution antimalarial drug use to fight COVID-19

By Caribbean News Global fav

St Lucia / St Vincent – The French territories of Martinique and Guadeloupe are in lock-down per COVID–19 directives from mainland France. This is causing a ripple effect on travel in the triangle between – Saint Lucia; St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) and Guadeloupe – Martinique, while news cases were announced Sunday in Grenada and Dominica.

Amid this situation SVG ministry of health, wellness and the environment (MOHWE) cautioned the general public that the use of antimalarial drugs Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine to treat or prevent COVID–19 “has not yet been approved”.

Of note, the countries mentioned have confirmed COVID–19 cases.

Last week 95 locals returning from Martinique to Saint Lucia aboard Express des Isles, are currently quarantined at Starfish hotel in compliance with COVID–19 protocol for 14 days.

St Vincent and the Grenadines did the same with approximately 40 persons, returning to the island from Guadeloupe, March 16, 2020.

In corresponding statements, Saint Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines health authorities, for whatever reason are defending their actions.

St Lucia

According to the ministry of health and wellness: “Quarantine centers have been set up using various hotels to facilitate the large numbers of returning nationals and any non-nationals of concern that may arrive.

It applies to people who may or may not become sick. It restricts the movement of healthy people who may develop a disease after possible exposure to an infectious agent.

Special provision was put in place for the elderly, pregnant women and those with small children. Quarantine conditions include single room boarding except in the case of families and couples who are allowed to board together,” the ministry said.

St Vincent and the Grenadines

In a press statement, the ministry of health, wellness and the environment (MOHWE) informed the public that as more countries report community spread of COVID–19, mandatory quarantine of travelers from these countries would be implemented.

“It is based on this public health practice that a group of students, teachers, and chaperones who recently returned from Guadeloupe are on mandatory quarantine for 14 days. Household members of these persons have been advised to voluntarily quarantine themselves.”

Meanwhile, the MOHWE, cautioned the general public that the use of the antimalarial drugs Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine to treat or prevent COVID–19 has not yet been approved.

“The named drugs have been widely used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lupus (along with its related complaints of hair loss and joint pain). Although both Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine have been proposed by some researchers as being possible treatments against COVID–19, this has not yet been confirmed by health and regulatory authorities,” the MOHWE, “strongly urges the rational use of drugs while we await confirmation by the United States Food and Drug Administration regarding the safety and efficacy of both hydrochloroquine and chloroquine in the fight against COVID–19, should we need to use them for this purpose,” the statement said.

The ministry further advised that “individuals should have a medically appropriate reason to be in possession of prescription drugs.”

Calling all reserve officers

Meanwhile “all persons in quarantine are provided with breakfast, lunch, and dinner”, with corresponding healthcare in Saint Lucia, two individuals escaped from the facility Saturday. On Sunday the absconds were said to have returned.

“It appears that things are looking better, persons are in their rooms – actually there’s no one on the outside,” said acting commissioner of police, Milton Desir. “In addition to dealing with the COVID-19 situation, the police have to deal with other occurrences throughout the country. We will be calling all reserve officers who were not presently on active duty to assist us – they will be coming in from Monday,” he said.

The Bordelais Correctional Facility (BCF) was a hotbed of activity on Saturday, resulting in the escape and recapture of some prisoners, and the deployment of the fire service on Sunday, to extinguish fire-related activities at the facility.

And according to commentors; “He (inmate) forget he safe in there than out here, COVID–19 is a death sentence.” “Riot, God is coming soon. That’s what we don’t realised. The time for the almighty is coming near. The government has nothing to do with all this (COVID–19) calamity.”

As of Sunday, March 22, 2020, the ministry of health said: “There were over 100 people in quarantine and three people in isolation.”


Corresponding with Grenada’s announcement, Dominica reported its first case of COVID–19, on Sunday, per health minister Dr Irving McIntyre. The individual is a 54-year-old Dominican man who recently returned from the United Kingdom.

“This individual was placed under home quarantine from the time of arrival and has been under surveillance by a medical team,” Dr McIntyre explained. “The patient is being treated in a special isolation unit and will remain there until recovery. Per protocol, the ministry of health has initiated aggressive contract-tracing to identify every individual who may have come in close contact with the patient.”

“All individuals identified during contact-tracing will be tested and placed under quarantine,” he stated. “Our primary focus as a ministry is to ensure containment and prevent in-country transmission.”

Public hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and social distancing are advised as a strategy to reduce the spread of COVID–19.



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