By Carlena Knight
News that 16 law enforcement officials have tested positive for the coronavirus came to light Thursday morning during the post-Cabinet press briefing.
That was, however, not the only bit of startling information as it is also being said by government officials that these positive tests were as a result of the August 8 protest that took place on Market Street.
According to the post-Cabinet notes, the officers who tested positive were “controlling an unlawful gathering of anti-vaxxers”.
Information Minister Melford Nicholas explained that “a further evaluation is taking place, but all evidence points to that they were all in attendance at the event where they would have been presumably exposed to some type of spread in that particular environment”.
With this latest revelation, concerns arose on how effectively the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda would carry out their duties, but according to the police’s Public Relations Officer (PRO) Inspector Frankie Thomas, although there will be an impact, they will make do with those on duty.
“Quite naturally, if an officer has to be taken off active duty due to health issues or any other unforeseen circumstances, it will have some impact on our human resources.
“However, as a professional and responsible organisation, we are always prepared and have a contingency plan to address these issues,” Thomas said.
Meanwhile, those persons who took part in the protest that Sunday afternoon are being encouraged to get tested for Covid-19.
“The Ministry of Health will be calling upon, and I take the first opportunity to do so, to indicate to all those persons who were in attendance at that event that they should seek to as early as possible get a test to verify their status because the indications are that there might have been a spread at that event,” Nicholas said.
Those protestors who present themselves to be tested are assured that they should not be concerned about being arrested for taking part in what police claim was an illegal gathering.
Inspector Thomas told Observer that that “won’t be a priority” at this time.
“It won’t be priority for the police. What would be of concern is for them to go get medical assistance. Which is more important? Being afraid of getting arrested or getting medical help?” Thomas asked.
“If they’re members of the public who have contracted the Covid virus, I think they should do the most responsible thing at this time and get medical assistance to avoid any further health implications and also to minimise any further spread,” he added.
Those persons can get tested at the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre free of charge.