Government mulls increased penalties for quarantine violators

Cabinet spokesman Melford Nicholas
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By Elesha George 

The government is considering increasing penalties for people who violate quarantine regulations. Currently persons who do not stay within the confines of their quarantine facility can be fined up to EC$5,000.

In announcing yet another two-week delay in the issuance of tracking bracelets for quarantine patients, Cabinet spokesman Melford Nicholas said, “These will be applied with rigorous intent to the extent that we are looking as well to strengthening the fines for persons who would want to violate quarantine conditions”.

His remark comes as quarantine officials from the Ministry of Health continue to record an increase in domestic cases in Antigua.

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Rhonda Sealey Thomas said last week that for the month of September, 90 percent of the confirmed Covid-19 cases were recorded in persons with no recent travel history. Since her announcement, domestic cases have continued to rise. 

Nicholas said that the ministry is alarmed at the new data which they believe may be a result of “lax tendencies” of some residents. 

“A lot hangs on what we do individually as citizens; it’s not just on the government,” he stressed, adding that residents should try to eliminate clusters while the police increase surveillance and the Ministry of Health as well as the government exercise greater control over the established protocols.

“Large clusters would create big nightmares for the government and for the wider society,” the spokesman warned.

Currently, there are 12 patients being treated for Covid-19, one of whom is at the new Infectious Diseases Control Centre at the old Holberton Hospital. 

There are 277 people in self-quarantine and 15 quarantined in a government-run centre. So far, 3,260 persons have been tested, with 122 recorded positive cases. Three people have been confirmed as dying of the virus while 107 people have recovered.

In order to reduce the spread, the government and health officials have continuously called on residents to wear facemasks, practice social distancing and adhere to the 11pm to 5am curfew.

This advice, Nicholas said, is particularly important as the country accepts an influx of winter season tourists.

According to this week’s Cabinet notes, all flights arriving into Antigua in November and December 2020 are fully booked and there is therefore a greater probability that persons carrying the virus will arrive. 

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