by Linda Straker
- More than 100 persons have been quarantined since 31 January at a cost of over EC$1 million to government
- To maintain a person in quarantine for 14 days costs state EC$9,500
- 100 cruise ship workers arriving by mid-June will suddenly put quarantine cost beyond EC$2 million
Tabulation of public records on the number of persons who were placed in state-funded quarantine shows that more than EC$1 million has been spent by government to ensure that returning nationals upon arrival to the island, do not mix and mingle with the general population before 14 days.
More than 100 persons have been placed in quarantine since 31 January, when Grenada implemented measures at protecting the country from having to deal with an influx of Covid-19 cases. “Most of the returning nationals to date are cruise ship workers and as you know they are all are in quarantine at a cost to government,” Health Minister, Nickolas Steele said.
The ministry is preparing to welcome more than 100 cruise ship workers by mid-June and that will suddenly put the quarantine cost beyond EC$2 million. “And again as it stands right now, it’s the state that will be bearing the cost to have them in quarantine as we ensure that all returning nationals comply with the new health protocols that are been put in place as part of measures to control and reduce the spread of Covid-19,” Steele said.
Within days of commencing the quarantine measures, the ministry disclosed that it will cost the state no less than EC$9,500 to maintain a person in quarantine for the 14 days. “So, using that as our base figure, you will realise the amount we have spent to date, more than a million dollars,” he said.
On Wednesday, 3 June 2020 Grenada welcomed a group of 21 returning nationals from the United Kingdom and most are expected to pay for the 14 days quarantine or contribute towards the cost. Prime Minister, Dr Keith Mitchell, disclosed in a national address on 10 May 2020, after the first batch of returning nationals on a cruise ship arrived, that the management of the cruise ship had agreed to assist the government will funding for the quarantine, but then reneged. “To provide further clarity on the mandatory quarantine for returning crew members, government is now single-handedly bearing the cost of almost $200,000 to provide these facilities because the cruise lines have not accepted responsibility, despite an earlier agreement to do so.”
To ensure that the Ministry of Health has adequate funds to cope with the additional expenses that the General Hospital and the ministry will create because of this global health pandemic, an additional EC$10 million was allocated when government adjusted the estimates of revenue and expenditure in April.
The supplementary estimates provide $10 million for additional Covid-19 related health expenditure. In the original estimate which was presented in late November 2019, the Ministry of Health received EC$72, 155, 371 for recurrent expenditure and EC$17,582,613 for capital expenditure. Of the amount received for recurrent, the General Hospital was allocated EC$37,123,819.
By mid-March, Grenada announced its first confirmed case and as of 4 June, the island has had a total of 23 cases with 4 classified as active. There has been no Covid-19 death. As part of the national control measures, a state of emergency was declared in late March which restricts the movement of citizens with only essential workers allowed to move around and cross internal borders.
All areas of government revenue suddenly came to halt and resulting in a significant reduction to government income. However, by May, government began easing restrictions and though the country continues in a state of emergency, a significant number of sectors are allowed to open for business from 5 am to 7 pm.
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