By Carlena Knight
The revision of some of the Covid-19 protocols at the airport may be announced in the upcoming days as discussions have been ongoing with Cabinet on this matter.
This was revealed by Health Minister Sir Molwyn Joseph, who said that discussions have been ongoing since last week on the way forward regarding the additional PCR test option and its US $50 fee for fully vaccinated travellers at the airport.
“Every week, the Cabinet meets and looks at the state of the epidemiology circumstances in Antigua and Barbuda and from time to time the policies are revised. That is one of the policies since last week we started discussing; whether or not it is time to make some adjustments to that requirement in which will be discussed today. We do not function in a stagnant situation. The situation is dynamic. We get the data before us, see the trends and make the necessary adjustments,” Sir Molwyn said.
Sir Molwyn was speaking on Observer radio this morning addressing the matter of covid protocols and the possible bias with returning nationals and tourists.
He admits that there are some areas in the covid health protocol system that needs to be tweaked such as the long wait for PCR test results for returning nationals in quarantine.
As a result, he apologised to all those persons who would have some bad experiences.
The health minister is still however defending some of the protocols and denying notions that there is some sort of bias or discrimination in how returning nationals are treated than tourists.
“Well, that is not true; that is false again,” Sir Molwyn said. “The fact is that visitors to Antigua and Barbuda are subject to certain rules in terms of where they are allowed to go, and the activities they are allowed to undertake; that is the policy of the government.
“Obviously, there are times when the policy is not fully enforced, but that does not establish the fact that there are different rules as is being suggested. What needs to happen is that at the hotels [they] need to enforce the policy of the government and make sure that the people understand their limitations.”
Sir Molwyn says that some of the notions that are making the rounds in public circles about several protocols especially at the airport and quarantine are just inaccurate.
He says measures are put in place based on the statistical evidence which has shown that the number of positive cases in the country for returning nationals far exceeds that of tourists.
According to the minister, the highest transition numbers are seen at funerals, weddings and bars.
“The figures are here. If you doubt the figures when you go to the hospital and you ask the doctors and the nurses to share the data it will show that the rate of infections among the local population far exceeds that of the visitors of Antigua and Barbuda. So, my question is why is the rate higher?” he asked.
“The rate is higher because of the social setting. If I go and travel to New York to a hotel, I am not seeing the people that I know, I go and do my business but when I return to Antigua and Barbuda, I am seeing the people I know, I am seeing family and friends, my social interaction is totally different and in my estimation the policy of the government is not discriminatory. It is in recognition of the fact that in the local population the social setting is different and hence the probability of infection among the social population will see a higher rate,” he explained.
Sir Molwyn added the fact that for a three-week span the country has not had any positive Covid-19 cases proves that these protocols are indeed warranted.