Greetings this is Kennedy Roberts the Deputy Chairman of the National Democratic Congress and spokesperson with responsibility for Health and Social Security.
This is a response to the address made by Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell on Monday, 14 December 2020, pertaining to the current spread in Grenada.
The rumour of a Covid-19 cluster at a hotel in the south of the island was heard by most Grenadians late last week. This was confirmed by the Minister of Health at the press conference held on Sunday and he confirmed our worst fears. Twenty-six people confirmed, 13 in one family alone, 9 guests positive, contact tracing in effect, hundreds of possible exposures. A sense of panic was in the air throughout the nation. The Minister of Education was on the panel and informed that the national address planned by the Prime Minister for Wednesday will be advanced. The nation waited anxiously on Monday and what a disappointment.
The national address delivered by the Prime Minister was not just a total disappointment but bordered on disrespect to the Grenadian people. He did not acknowledge the responsibility of the cabinet for the current situation regarding the spread of the coronavirus. This is directly based on their tourism and public health policies and highlights the reality that this administration cares more about revenue from the tourism sector than for the health and welfare of the majority of Grenadians. There was no remorse, no apology, no sincere expression of concern for the workers, no empathy for the affected families, apart from one short sentence, but rather trying to make the Grenadian people have a sense of guilt as if we the people had done something wrong.
The Prime Minister must take responsibility for the failure of the administration’s policy relating to “Pure Safe Accommodation”. This policy allows specific hotels to be exempted from the protocols established regarding testing4 days after arriving into the country. What is the legal basis for allowing guests and some hotels to ignore the laws that other persons among the population must adhere to? While this strategy might be a marketing tool for the tourism sector, it clearly creates a higher level of risk for the coronavirus entering the country and should have been monitored more closely or not even be considered. In fact, it is our understanding within the NDC that concerns were expressed from the private sector to the tourism authorities with regards to the non-adherence of the protocols and the NDC would like the government to indicate what are the specific details pertaining to these concerns expressed and why tests were not done at a much earlier time.
The data presented in the national address does not correspond to the current realities of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Prime Minister is not acknowledging that this situation can get worse. Reference was made to the situation being “under control” and “we avoided the wrath of the pandemic” while ignoring the potential disastrous consequences that this. Even the use of the term disease cluster is not recognising that the virus has moved from a specific location and that we know have community spread.
The Prime Minister and his administration also have to take full responsibility for the high level of stress and other mental health issues affecting the population as a result of this current situation with the Covid-19 spread. Resources should be prioritised to assist those families directly affected by the situation and ensure that they can cope under this stressful reality. The restrictions and limiting of personal freedoms of citizens is a direct result of this failure to protect the citizens adequately.
The country needs policies to encourage Grenadians to engage more in agriculture, technology and other serious endeavours to enhance our livelihoods rather than the continuing to place emphasis on tourism. This strategy is ignoring the health and welfare of our people.
The continued short-term focus of providing direct assistance to vulnerable groups loses sight of the true meaning of development, but the National Democratic Congress will commit to programmes that will upgrade the health, education and Social Security situation of all Grenadians based on a level playing field with a serious focus on relevant and better structured human development programmes.
The NDC commits to greater dialogue among the population and utmost transparency in providing information relevant to our country.
The NDC supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Universal Health Coverage and will give priority to an integrated approach to addressing the health needs of the country. The Social Security program under the NIS will be reviewed to address Social issues from birth to death in a non-partisan way.
The National Democratic Congress calls on the Prime Minister to acknowledge responsibility for this current community spread of the Corona 19 virus in Grenada and apologise to the nation for this policy failure relating to the management of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The NDC is asking the Prime Minister to apologise to Grenadian people and in particular the families affected for this current situation.
The NDC is demanding an independent, impartial enquiry into this Covid-19 spread fiasco to determine what were the factors responsible and ensure that this does not occur again.
The NDC calls on the Ministers of Health and Tourism to do what is appropriate in this situation and submit their resignation for the total failure of their “Pure Safe Accommodation” programme.
We wish Grenadians well and we extend support to the families of those affected by this situation and will ensure that the NDC continue to give you whatever support we can to help us get through this difficult situation.
We continue to ask Grenadians to adhere to the relevant protocols of hand washing, sanitising, using your face masks at all times when you’re in public, try to ensure that you maintain that physical distancing of at least 6 feet from each other and if you do not need to go out, if you do not have to go outside try to remain at home as much as possible and minimise whatever socialising you do especially for the coming week.
The NDC continues to monitor the situation and wish Grenada well as we look forward to our situation improving in the future.
God bless Grenada and best wishes to all thank you.