News, Regional News, Travel

Grenada moves to contain a Covid outbreak connected to Sandals resort

Published 15 December 2020


Buckie Got It, St. Kitts and Nevis News Source

The pool area at Sandals Grenada. Photo Credit: Gay Nagle Myers

Grenada’s Ministry of Health says it’s taking “aggressive efforts” to contain an outbreak of Covid-19 cases connected to the Sandals Grenada all-inclusive resort.

Keith Mitchell, prime minister of Grenada, in an address on Dec. 14 outlined several temporary measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 on the island.

Effective Dec. 15, all social gatherings, including weddings and funerals, are limited to 10 participants for the next seven days. Community evens and gatherings are postponed for seven days; business operations, including public transportation, must stop at 10 p.m.; and restaurants are limited to takeout service only.

“The sudden spike in Covid cases originated at Sandals Grenada and demonstrates the grave dangers we face,” Mitchell said. “The grim reality is that 13 people from one household have tested positive, based on a staff member’s exposure to Covid. It cannot be determined at this time that this was due to a breakdown in the application of the resort’s protocols, but we must enforce the law.

“The Ministry of Health is revisiting the protocols for all hotels and resorts,” Mitchell said. “The magnitude of this new cluster of cases means it is not business as usual during this holiday season.”

He said that this was a “difficult time to enforce restrictions, but I need everyone’s full cooperation in mask wearing, social distancing and sanitizing, because a nationwide shutdown is not the preferred option.” 

The cluster comprises 26 positive Covid-19 cases found among Sandals Grenada guests, staff and their contacts, though during a press conference on Sunday, the ministry’s acting chief medical officer, Dr. Shawn Charles, emphasized that number “is likely to increase significantly, once we have the final results of all of the testing that is being conducted.”

In a statement, a Sandals spokesperson said that the Sandals Grenada remained open and fully operational, though the property has paused its acceptance of new arrivals for the next several days “out of an abundance of caution.”

“Grenada’s situation is an isolated one, the asymptomatic individuals were quickly identified and we are collaborating with public health authorities to develop key learnings further,” said Sandals. “Our Sandals Platinum Protocols of Cleanliness are working as they should to ensure our resorts are doing everything possible to keep risks to a minimum for our valued guests and team members.”

According to the ministry, the outbreak was discovered through the island’s “proactive testing” efforts, which have focused on frequent testing of frontline staff who work in sectors related to tourism, travel and health.

“The Sandals resort has now been deemed to be a place of screening and assessment,” said the Ministry of Health in a statement posted online Sunday. “Entire households related to the confirmed cases have also been quarantined, and contact tracers are actively working to source other potentially exposed people in other areas of public life and activity.”

The Ministry added that the outbreak is “a rapidly evolving situation,” and that it expects “a further tightening of measures related to activities and daily life” in the wake of the event.

Grenada has had a total of 69 confirmed Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began, according to John Hopkins University & Medicine.

Though Grenada’s border status remains open, visitors to the island are required to obtain a negative PCR Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of travel and complete a Pure Safe Travel Certificate prior to arrival, among other requirements.

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