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(Searchlight Newspaper) – Effective Monday, January 4, 2021, travellers from Barbados will be categorised as arriving from a high risk country, and must quarantine in an approved hotel for 10 days.

This change in the protocol for entry of travellers to St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) was announced by the National Emergency Mangement Organsation (NEMO) Saturday night.

A change has also been made to the protocol for entry of travellers to SVG from medium risk countries, who will now have to spend five days in an approved hotel.

The change in categorization of Barbados from medium risk to high risk came just hours after the Barbados government announced that over the past two days, almost 200 people tested positive for the COVID-19 virus and that public health officials are investigating at least three clusters, one of which is a super spreader event accounting for the majority of new cases.

Head of the Barbados Cabinet COVID-19 sub-committee, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott, said 161 people at Her Majesty’s Prison Dodds, comprising inmates, wardens and civilian staff returned positive tests. And on Friday and Saturday, 33 cases outside of the prison – via contact tracing and visitors at the Grantley Adams International Airport – were also recorded.

Of that 161, there are 113 inmates and 48 staff who tested positive.

The main super spreader event is a Boxing Day bus crawl that made several stops at West Coast bars, some of which are now closed. Officials are also looking at two smaller clusters comprising seven and four cases, respectively, centering around a visitor and a hotel worker. There is a possibility of two more clusters, but these have not returned any positive cases at this time.

Walcott said more than 1 000 samples were taken and the contact tracing has been fairly successful.

Minister of Health and Wellness Jeffrey Bostic said “we are on top of this situation as far as the prison is concerned”.

High risk countries are: United States of America, including the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), China, United Kingdom, Germany, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Guyana, Suriname, Belize, St. Lucia, Grenada, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Brazil, India, Panama, Argentina, Peru, Haiti, Colombia, South Africa, Nigeria, Indonesia, Philippines, Italy, Bahamas, Canada, Turks and Caicos Islands, France (including overseas regions), Spain and Russia.

The protocol lists medium risk countries as Taiwan, Cuba and Antigua & Barbuda.

Low risk countries are Anguilla, Dominica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis. Travellers from these countries must arrive with a negative result of a COVID-19 (RT-PCR) test done no more than 72 hours before arrival; may be tested on arrival in SVG at the discretion of the Port Health Officer.

The country of residence is defined as the last country that the traveller was present in for at least 21 days.

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