Choosing to Quarantine in Grenada
As the inevitable invasion of Covid-19 infections reached the Caribbean islands, many cruisers raced to find a way to get back to their motherland. My husband and I, having closely followed the news concerning Covidi-19 outbreaks in much of the world, elected to self-quarantine on our sailboat, anchored off a small, uninhabited, breathtakingly beautiful island in Grenada.
We reasoned that a trip back to the US would require flying to JFK airport in New York and our coming in proximity with many hundreds of people from all over the world. We would be putting ourselves at risk, as well as, potentially adding demand on already over-burdened health care professionals with insufficient resources
Can we save ourselves?
The magnitude of this tragedy today, is difficult to take in. Near-term certainties of what lies ahead, should we fail to slow the progression of infections, will forever damn humanity for our short-sighted, selfish, and shallow priorities.
Tomorrow (April Fool’s Day), the number of deaths in the United States will exceed those in China. Tomorrow, the deaths in Italy will exceed 12,000, with no hint of an inflection in the curve to suggest it will not continue to increase until exhausted by Italy’s vulnerable population.
And yet, leadership across much of the world, points fingers, debates, and seeks to secure some personal or political advantage; none more-so than in the United States.
What true leadership looks like
Presently, confined to our sailboat, in the relatively speaking tiny island nation of Grenada, we have had the opportunity to observe and remember how exemplary leadership can guide a nation through a crisis. Grenada’s leaders have taken swift, decisive action, given unequivocal direction, spoken the truth, and conveyed empathy.
Before a single infection was confirmed in Grenada, increasingly more stringent directives, principally directed at reducing the immigration of potentially infected foreigners, were enacted. The following are those relevant to cruisers, like ourselves.
18 – March. Ports of entry to Grenada reduced to two and health check and travel history taken prior to possibility of check in.
19 – March (12:00am). Foreign vessels checking into Grenada must fly a quarantine flag and all passengers be quarantined on their vessel for 14 days
20 – March. Persons on board foreign vessels in Grenada cannot set foot on land
21 – March (11:59pm) Grenada closed to any foreign vessels not already cleared in
- The first infection (an individual returning from the UK) tests positive.
22 – March. Grenada’s main airport, Maurice Bishop International Airport closed to commercial traffic
The announcement that those on foreign vessels could not set foot on land, was simultaneously accompanied by hand delivered details of how our need for resources (food, water, fuel, et al) would be met. This service has been faithfully provided at no cost. We feel much indebted to the Grenadian Prime Minister Dr. Right Honorable Keith Mitchell and Minister for Health Honorable Nickolas Steele and all Grenadians for continuing to provide us with safe haven and necessities.
Since the first individual in Grenada with a confirmed Covid-19 infection was identified on March 21, eight additional individuals are known to have been infected. All have ties to patient zero and we can only hope the infection has been contained. In addition, a Limited State of Emergency was put in place, curfews were established and the need for social distancing, hand washing, not touching your face and remaining at home whenever possible was repeatedly emphasized.
Grenada’s Leadership not afraid to take unpopular decisions
March 30th, a written announcement from Grenada’s Minister of Health, the Honorable Nickolas Steele included the following excerpts.
“Sadly, many have not heard us. Many have ignored us.”
“In this regard, therefore, a mandatory curfew will be imposed beginning from 7:00 pm on Monday, March 30th, 2020, and ending 7:00 pm on the 6th day of April 2020.
During this period, every person shall remain confined to their place of residence (inclusive of their yard space), to avoid contact outside of their household; except as provided in the Regulations or as may be authorized in writing by the Commissioner of Police.”
Strict guidelines for the procurement of food were established.
“Shops which sell groceries, grocery stores and supermarkets in each Parish shall be open for business between 8am and 12 noon on select days specified by the Commissioner of Police.”
“One Person from each household shall be allowed to leave their residence once during a grocery day to attend shops which sell groceries…..in their own Parish”
All other places of business including restaurants and gas stations will be closed.
Strict guidelines for personal vehicles and busses were clearly spelled out.
Lastly, in my opinion, the most powerful and persuasive message issued from the Minister of Health, when addressing the nation live today was the following.
“Do not leave your house unless it is a food or medical emergency and you will have done your part to keep your household safe and your nation safe.”
Judging from the comments left by Grenadians following the publication of these directives, there is widespread support, despite the hardships imposed.
That is what True Leadership can accomplish!