St Vincent officials are extremely worried about the island’s increasing COVID-19 cases. It comes because of a lack of clean water as thousands of evacuees fleeing the La Soufrière volcano eruption crowd into shelters and private homes.
Over a dozen cases have been reported in recent days. At least five evacuees staying in two homes and a shelter tested positive, exposing at least 20 people to the virus, St Vincent’s chief medical officer, Dr Simone Keizer-Beache, said.
She said officials were preparing to do mass testing to support contact tracing, a complicated undertaking given that between 16,000 and 20,000 people had been evacuated before La Soufrière’s explosive eruptions started a fortnight ago. She also urged people to wear masks and cooperate to curb the outbreak. Some people arriving at shelters had refused to undergo a voluntary test, she said.
“Let us work together to prevent a second catastrophe,” Dr Keizer-Beache told a press conference broadcast by the local station NBC Radio.
Heavy ashfall from La Soufrière has contaminated many communities’ water supplies, leaving people to congregate in long queues at standpipes.