by Linda Straker
- Illegal immigrants can contribute to start of community spread of Covid-19
- 5 Venezuelans and a Trinidadian appeared before Court on Tuesday morning
- Penalty is 6 months imprisonment and/or EC$1,500 as well as deportation
Health officials are concerned about what appears to be increasing illegal entry of immigrants from Venezuela and other Caricom nationals into Grenada, because they can contribute to the start of community spread of Covid-19.
Commissioner of Police Edvin Martin disclosed on Tuesday, 30 March 2021, that for the first quarter of 2021 law enforcement has intercepted 15 illegal immigrants. There were only 20 illegal entries recorded for the year 2020.
“We do not know how many have escaped the law enforcement gaze. We do not know how many might be circulating within our society, and hence the call for us to continue exercising vigilance,” Martin told journalists during the weekly post-cabinet briefing.
“It could be a tragedy if any one such person may be circulating in our community is positive with a strain that can potentially affect our population,” he added.
5 Venezuelans and a Trinidadian who accompanied them appeared before the Court on Tuesday morning to answer charges of entering the country without the permission of an immigration officer. The penalty for this offence is 6 months imprisonment and or EC$1,500 as well as deportation.
Responding to the disclosure, Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Shawn Charles said that health officials are extremely worried about that development. “The Ministry of Health is very concerned because we do have examples from other territories where illegal entry into the country has played a huge part in the establishment of community spread there and these countries have not been able to get past these events and the populations are right now experiencing some difficulties as a result of that.”
Charles, who previously was the Ministry’s epidemiologist, said that through regular port entry there is a great deal of control, but learning of the reality that people are entering the country illegally is deeply troubling. “We have been able to exert a high level of control, but we always want people to remember that not everyone who enters Grenada enters through our net.”
Charles called on citizens to always remember that there are people who will choose the illegal option to enter the island. “So, it is never accurate to say, well we have no Covid-19, why can’t we do this. It is more accurate to say no known cases because we may have some that may escape our control measures,” he said.