KINGSTOWN – St Lucia, Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines have placed a ban on nationals from Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, as Caribbean countries continue to put in place measures to deal with a possible outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the region
Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Guinea are the three West African countries most affected by the Ebola virus.
A statement issued by the Kenny Anthony administration said that given the extent of the outbreak of the Ebola virus in those West African countries, the Prime Minister has advised the Commissioner of Police, Vernon Francois, to implement with “immediate effect, a prohibition on persons from these countries who wish to travel to St Lucia”.
“All visitors from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone will be denied entry into St Lucia until further notice,” the statement said, adding despite the fact that the President of Nigeria has declared that Nigeria is Ebola free, visitors from that country will be required to present a recent medical certificate which clears them of the virus, in addition to having a visa to be allowed entry into St Lucia.
Prime Minister Anthony said that St Lucia would continue to monitor the outbreak and has allocated resources to prepare for any possible threat.
For his part, the Vincentian Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said his government took the decision given the lack of infrastructure on the island to deal with the Ebola virus for which there is no known cure.
“Because we didn’t consider that we had the infrastructure, necessarily, to deal with an onrush of people if they were to come from any of those West African countries, which we have named specifically,” Gonsalves said.
Prime Minister Gonsalves said that the head of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), Dr James Hospedales, will address his cabinet on the Chikungunya and Ebola viruses today.
Health ministers from the sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) are meeting here over the next two days to discuss strategies to deal with the viruses.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gonsalves said he would be leading a three-member delegation to the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) summit to be held in Cuba on Monday, where the Ebola virus, which has claimed over 4,500 lives in West Africa will be discussed.
“What they want to do is to have us share our experiences and to have us have a discussion on the issues professionally – the professionals will advise and we’ll take some decisions as heads in ALBA as to how we can address this issue nationally, regionally and globally, because it is a national problem, it’s a regional problem, it’s a global problem,” he said.
In Grenada, the Keith Mitchell administration has temporarily suspended with immediate effect the issuance of travel visas from Sierra Leon, Guinea and Liberia.
The Government has also urged residents to desist from all non-essential travel to the above-mentioned countries.