by Gemma Handy
The first international travellers have been fitted with the high-tech quarantine tracking bracelets bought by government to force compliance with stay-at-home rules and stem coronavirus contagion.
Information Minister Melford Nicholas confirmed that a small pilot scheme to gauge the wrist-worn devices’ efficacy had been launched on Tuesday.
Jeff Jarosinski was one of 15 people randomly selected to take part when he arrived back home to Antigua after spending Christmas in his native US.
He said he was fitted with the device when he landed at VC Bird International Airport after clearing the standard health procedures for all incoming passengers, which include presenting a negative PCR Covid-19 test result.
Jarosinski told Observer he had already planned to self-quarantine at his Jolly Harbour home for two weeks and was happy to comply with the measure.
“They ask you where you stay and they pull up a map on their computer, you highlight the area and give them your contact information.
“Once they initiate the bracelet it’s linked to the position on the map, so if you leave your residence for any reason it sends them an alarm,” he explained.
Bracelet-wearers are required to send their temperature, heart rate and blood pressure to health authorities twice a day.
“The temperature is sent automatically when I push the button three times, and my blood pressure and heart rate are sent when I push the button seven times. It’s convenient as I don’t have to call in by telephone,” he said.
Government initially bought 200 of the bracelets – at a cost of US$30,000 – with an additional 300 set to follow. They were purchased after a string of quarantine violations were reported, sparking fears for public safety.
The devices are linked to a Ministry of Health command centre based at the Jolly Beach Resort. They operate via geo-fencing technology, using a SIM card, similar to those in cellphones.
Jarosinski said the bracelet was light and reasonably comfortable to wear.
“You notice it more than a watch but it doesn’t limit you with regards to exercise or anything else I have experienced yet.
“It does feel like the government is being very thorough, they have committed resources to this and they’re really serious about it. I respect Antigua for that,” he added.
The bracelets are due to be rolled out to more travelers imminently, Minister Nicholas said.
Similar devices are in use in a raft of countries around the world, from the Cayman Islands to Singapore.
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