Representatives of Grenada’s 2 main political parties held discussions Thursday on fostering greater collaboration in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic and its current impact on the country and its people.
Initiated by Prime Minister, Dr the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, and readily accepted by Acting Political Leader of the National Democratic Congress, Adrian Thomas, the meeting underscored the need for unity in addressing Covid-19. Other attendees included Joseph Andall of the NDC and Anthony Boatswain of the NNP.
After successfully managing the pandemic for more than a year, Grenada transitioned to community spread in recent weeks, and as of 15 September, the country recorded a total of 2,210 active cases, the majority of which are locally transmitted.
Thursday’s meeting, therefore, underscored the urgency of the situation and the equally urgent need for a collaborative approach to curbing the spread of the virus and addressing vaccine hesitancy among Grenadians.
Discussion points included the quarantine period for fully-vaccinated persons entering the country; increasing the number of testing and vaccination sites across the country to reduce the potential for crowded venues; establishment of a separate isolation unit for Covid-19 patients; the recruitment of more volunteers to assist with public education and manning the Covid-19 hotline and improving the capacity of the hotline with support from telecommunications providers.
The meeting also identified the need to expand the list of potential beneficiaries under the Covid-19 Economic Stimulus Package to bring greater relief to persons affected by the temporary closure of many non-essential businesses, and who have been left without an income. It was also suggested that Government encourage utility companies and financial institutions to offer moratoriums to customers, as a means of financial relief.
Efforts are already underway to address some of the areas highlighted, but there was general agreement to give consideration to more of these.
In addition to political parties working together, there was unanimous support for the idea for popular persons in the performing arts sector to work together to produce promotional material that will provide relevant messages in an entertaining format. Another suggestion was for calypsonians and soca artistes to unite to create similar messages that would resonate with various sections of the population.
Mention was made of the willingness of persons in the diaspora to support Covid-19 initiatives in Grenada through donations, and the NDC representatives proposed possible concessions, an idea the Prime Minister commended the NDC for, and agreed that consideration can be given to a clear and transparent proposal for same.
With respect to the distribution of relief supplies to persons in need, it was agreed that a nonpartisan approach should be adopted, using the National Disaster Management Agency and/or community-based organisations that will maintain impartiality.
Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr Shawn Charles joined the meeting briefly to provide clarity on specific concerns such as the quarantine period. He explained that because Grenada has transitioned to community spread, adjustment in entry protocols will not stop the rate of infection. Instead, he highlighted the need for a change in behaviour which he said can be influenced through greater mobilisation of messengers from different sectors to share Covid-19 information. All attendees thanked Dr Charles for his presentation.
The overriding consensus coming out of Thursday’s meeting is that the fight against Covid-19 goes beyond any political party or other affiliation, it deals with life and death. It is about setting any differences and working together for the benefit of all of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. As such, the suggestion was made for the creation of a Covid-19 Task Force that will include representatives of political parties and other interest groups that are committed to fostering a united front in tackling the pandemic.