OPERATIONS of as many as 10 government departments and state agencies have had to be scaled down or temporarily closed as Saint Vincent and the Grenadines peaks in COVID19 infections.
The Board of Buildings and General Road Services (BRAGSA), the Regional & Diaspora Integration Unit (RIDU), the Public Information Agency (API), the Civil Service Commissions (CSP), the Public Prosecutor’s Office (DPP) , St Vincent Electricity Services Limited (VINLEC), District 1 courts and several police departments have all been visited by the virus in the past two weeks, resulting in either a complete shutdown to allow testing and disinfection or operations reduced.
Yesterday, those who appeared at the Kingstown Serious Criminal Court and Magistrates’ Court were told their cases would have to be postponed to allow for the cleanup of the courts and the testing of staff.
A court official told SEARCHLIGHT yesterday that a staff member in the DPP’s office tested positive and that this development has had a domino effect on courts, especially those in District One.
Kingstown Major Offenses Court and Magistrates’ Court will remain closed today.
Last Thursday, the Royal Police of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (RSVGPF) informed that the Rose Hall Police Station and the Police Garage had been closed to the public until further notice after some staff from these places were “affected by Covid19”. A statement indicates that the officers concerned have been “quarantined and isolated as appropriate”.
The affected police services have since expanded to include the Calliaqua Police Station, the Sexual Offenses Unit and one of the Police Tactical Units.
Also yesterday, members of the public trying to access the services of the duty commission department were turned away after a staff member tested positive.
As of Sunday, September 19, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines had 475 active cases of COVID19, the vast majority having tested positive in the past two weeks; three people died from complications from COVID19 during this same period.
A health ministry official told SEARCHLIGHT that the spread of COVID19 infection in the public service is already significantly affecting productivity.
The manager explained that when there is a positive case in a department, unvaccinated employees who are close contacts of the positive person will need to self-isolate at home while awaiting test results, while close contacts who are vaccinated will be allowed to continue working while awaiting results. , but they must maintain strict protocols, including masking and disinfection.
This, the official said, is because those vaccinated are less likely to be infected or transmit the virus, so they are allowed to stay at work.
But with the number of unvaccinated employees surpassing the vaccinated in many departments, the pressure is on the few who remain to continue.