COVID arrives in Grenada

After enjoying more than a year of safety, COVID has hit the island of Grenada. As of late July, Grenada had suffered one COVID death and there were only four active cases, all imported which likely meant that the COVID had been brought by tourists. That all changed in August. As of this blog post – just over a month later, 1760 people have COVID and 22 people have died from it. The numbers are climbing every day.

Grenadian Health Minister Nicholas Steele wept as he spoke of the first death that began this recent wave of the pandemic. One of his colleagues praised him for his show of strength. In an address last week, Prime Minister Mitchell said that more deaths will follow. The Ministry of Health is working relentlessly to get Grenada vaccinated.

The stats for Grenada on July 30, 2021 are shown in the table below, taken from the local news site, www.NowGrenada.com.

LOCAL (CURRENTLY)
New positive case(s)0
Active cases4
• Imported4
• Local0
Hospitalised0
In self-isolation4
In quarantine facilities715*
* In July, people in quarantine would be tourists and returning nationals who were required to quarantine before entering the community.

Contrast that with data from yesterday, September 10, 2021.

LOCAL (CURRENTLY)
New positive case(s)216
Active cases1,760
• Imported9
• Import-related0
• Local1,751
Hospitalised56
In self-isolation1,760
In quarantine facilities554

The total population of Grenada is 112,523. Grenada now, unfortunately, leads the world for COVID per capita. It is hard to see how this stops.

Source: New York Times, “Coronavirus World Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak” site. (Data appeared on or about September 8.)

We are staying as safe as we can, becoming virtual hermits as we socially distance. A few weeks ago, we moved our boat to Prickly Bay. We are anchored at the mouth of the harbour, all by ourselves, like our own island. In Calvigny Cut, we were in the thick of things. We were within easy distance of lots of other families afloat. While we really enjoyed their company, the continuous social activities and playdates were starting to impact our homeschooling. In contrast, Prickly Bay has a large number of boats but very few children. Our decision to move our boat happened to coincide with the spread of COVID on the island.

Fearing a lockdown, and to stay off the island itself, I bought about a months’ worth of groceries and began freezing vegetables. In the grocery store, my intentions were laid out like a badge of shame. Purchasing toilet paper felt like the the mark of selfish hoarderism. Six gleaming white, medical-grade, KN-95 masks felt like trophies. In Grenada, a KN-95 mask costs three times the price of a fabric mask.

As I listened to the Right Honorable Dr. Keith Mitchell Prime Minster of Grenada speaking last week, I wondered about the old lady in St. George’s who sells fresh bay leaves at $2 a bag. I thought about the shop employees who serve hundreds of customers a day. They are exposed to anti-vax attitudes, noses and stray viruses.

Meanwhile, I’m near cowering on-shore in my white medical-grade mask during the shortest of visits away from my floating oasis that is our catamaran, SV Aphrodite. I wonder about the two homeless men who lounge shirtless on the sidewalk near the central market.

I took Joel’s grocery bus last Saturday. Joel is a private taxi driver with a mini-van (most of the taxis here are mini-vans). He picks up cruisers at the Budget Marine boat dock on Saturday mornings to go grocery shopping and charges $15EC/person ($5.56 US) for the round trip. Joel is vaccinated and he allows vaccinated passengers only.

At the time, the local bus company was still in operation. But, hand and bus sanitizing stopped long ago. Some bus drivers continued to decorate their buses with little bottles of sanitizer dangling from all the head rests that seem to swing in time to the local music. Mask wearing had become much more lax than when we arrived on the island in July 2020.

Typical bus in Grenada. A bus doesn’t leave the central bus station until it is completely full.

A few days ago, the bus service officially disbanded due to health and safety concerns. However, I’m told that some bus drivers continue to operate on most routes. I should mention that, to avoid the bus, our family walked 2.5 hours to get to town and be vaccinated. I recognize that some people are not so fortunate as to have the time or abilities to walk the route. Grenada is a very hot, humid and hilly country with narrow windy roads. In large part, Grenadians must stay at home or find alternative ways to travel. This weekend, (September 9 at 5 PM to September 12 at 5 AM) the Grenadian government has issued a stay-at-home order. Everyone is confined to their immediate residences, which, for us, means our boat. The only allowable reasons to leave your residence is for medical emergencies, or if you are being tested or vaccinated for COVID. This weekend we won’t snorkel at a nearby reef, kayak, visit land. The Internet gives us daily updates as to the horror that is unfolding on shore. Specifically, on Facebook, I follow the GIS – Government Information Service of Grenada, which issues frequent updates.

During the week, essential workers like grocery store staff and construction workers are allowed to go to work. Likewise, we can go to shore to buy food, water and take-out food. Restaurants are closed to dine-in service.

Grenada began vaccinating the public with Astra Zeneca in February 2021. The Pfizer vaccine was introduced in late August 2021. But, as you can see from this image, the uptake for vaccinations has been slow.

Source: Ministry of Health Grenada

Many people in Grenada (and beyond) are skeptical of the vaccine. From my observations the reasons, in Grenada, include faith over science, rejection of modern medicine, and peer pressure.

Faith in God is a current that runs through Grenada, and is invoked even in government addresses. That is not to say that all Grenadians put faith over science. However, I observed one determined elder refuse to use hand sanitizer. Raising her eyes to the sky and putting a sturdy leg in the bus, she declared with confident vibrato, “Gawwd will protect me.” 

Grenada has a strong and diverse medical community. There is a large medical university on the island. However, some local people put faith in good food and bush medicine. (Some cruisers do too for that matter.)

Strong herbal brews are popular remedies for everything from dengue to menstrual cramps. The Grenadian government doesn’t discount these attitudes and encourages people to eat well. However, the government wants people to get vaccinated. A few months ago, a man asked me “Are you enjoying your science experiment?” as we rattled down a road in his truck. (I was hitching a ride for convenience. It’s friendly like that in Grenada.) He told me that he preferred to eat his vegetables, enjoy fresh air, and stay away from the vaccine.

Further, there is a sentiment among some people that Grenadians will not be used as a medical testing ground. Amongst a population that is largely black, I have heard mutterings on buses, and in the street, about a historical distrust in the newly developed vaccines. Indeed, on a Duke University Research website, Cydney Livingston describes a litany of instances where black people have been used without consent or knowledge for medical research. It makes for a sobering read.

Finally, despite many efforts and ad campaigns throughout the island, there will always be pockets of people susceptible to peer pressure. On a recent bus ride I I was shocked to hear the lyrics to the Jamaican artist, Sizzla Kalonji’s, ”No Vaccine” protest song. Kolonji likens the vaccine to a form of slavery. When watching young men rock to the beat of this song, the message seems unforgivable.

The number of people getting vaccinated in Grenada is growing by the day, albeit slowly. Recently, when I visited to the St. George’s Medical Office, there were several young people waiting their turn to get vaccinated.

The Grenadian health team has been quick to set up COVID wards with beds for those who need them. These are pictures from the GIS Facebook page.

Our experience at the hospital shows that the people are committed but the conditions are different to what we would expect in Canada. I know this because, a few months ago, Paul spent two nights at the hospital. He had emergency appendix surgery. His surgeon was amazing. The nurses at the hospital work very hard, and made efforts to make Paul feel comfortable. Two pigeons walked the ward.

I’m buoyed up to see that the vaccination numbers are rising – but it’s slow. Right now, people are working hard to control the hell that has gripped this tropical paradise.

As for our plans, we intend to stay at least to stay in Grenada at least to the end of hurricane season in November. We might head to Panama for Christmas, then cross the canal in January and hopefully sail to French Polynesia or Fiji in the late winter.

15 comments

  1. Thank you, Lorraine. A really well-written and informative post. Good to know you’re all OK.

    My friend who’s a medical student at St George’s in Grenada is completing his first year, as they all do, at Newcastle in the UK. He’ll be here for Xmas and then to Grenada in January. I guess you’ll be long gone by then.

    Hoping to go to Jamaica at the end of hurricane season. We may or may not cross paths there! I would dearly love to see you all.

    Cheers, Janet

    Sent from my iPhone

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  2. “When watching young men rock to the beat of this song, the message seems unforgivable.” Please be careful of statements like this. Bodily autonomy is a human right. Not everyone is terrified as you are. There are thousands of scientists and doctors the world over that have nothing to gain, but everything to lose in speaking out against this experimental injection. Indeed it is experimental, it is not hard to find that information. This is not a “black and white” issue.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Don’t forget supplements that will strengthen your own natural immunity zinc, C, D3, depending on dose everyday or every other day along with a good multi. Friend just came out of the hospital after a week and he was fully vaccinated months ago. You might want to get your hands on some ivermectin.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your posts always make for an interesting read. I’m not terrified but I simply don’t want to catch Covid or bring it home to my family so taking the vaccine was an easy choice for me.
    I laughed at your description of socializing and snorkelling etc interfering with home schooling. I’m no where near as disciplined as you so that would be the tougher choice for me 😉
    I hope you all stay well and your future travels come together as you wish

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hello .
    I am also here in Grenada ( carricou at the moment) on a boat for almost a year now . Although your article is an interesting read , I’m curious to why you omitted so many important facts that seems would’ve been essential to educating your readers on the reasons Grenada is now in the position it is .
    Prime minister Mitchell passed a law July 31st 2021 prohibiting the travel of non citizens to Grenada that were not vaccinated . He also changed the 5 to 7 with 2 tests day quarantine protocol,to a 2 day no test ,which this decision alone has now proven to be a disasterous one . As you explained Grenada has gone for months with no cases or at the very least a few , this also includes a period of time when there was no vaccine here or anywhere for that matter . As you know the first several weeks of August 5 thousand students returned to Grenada to attend classes at the medical university which began semester in September. along with 5 thousand students they also arrived with friends and family, all which were vaccinated . The contact tracing on this has been quite clear . Vaccinated American students and or family or friends brought the virus in . The failure on the government to not follow the science in understanding the Oxford university study that clearly shows that both the vaccinated and unvaccinated carry the same viral load is for certain a blunder of epic proportions . You are correct in some of the religious sentiment about vaccines and medicines in general and there desire to find more organic remedies for many of the common ailments that effect the Islanders . But it is also as simple as ppl being reluctant to these vaccines on a scientific level . The fact that side effects such as blood clots have been well established in Europe and infact they are barred from certain age groups altogether in most European countries. As you stated the phizer vaccine arrived in July and there has been a up tick in vaccinations ,but doubt they’ll ever make 50% of the population . Your absolute dismissal of ivermectin has unfortunately only demonstrated you complete lack of knowledge or education on the matter . Like the U.S and Canada the flow of information since the start of the pandemic has both been agenda driven and outright censoring . Ivermectin is in Grenada and ppl are taking it . Might I suggest researching outside if the normal sphere ,Dr Piere Khory would be great person to start with since he’s top in his field and is quite knowledgeable to all the testing that has and is being currently done with ivermectin . Israel ,Bolivia ,Brazil , France all of the central African nations ,Japan ,mexico , Guatemala, Argentina are all using ivermectin , oxford university in the UK. Are begining clinical trials , It is also being prescribed by personal physicians in the US and Canada . Ivermectin has been used and is well documented to have helped cure Zica virus ,west Nile virus and several other viruses you’ve probably never heard of . There’s 67 studies clearly showing invermectin works on both parasitic and viral infections and the W.H.O has it listed on there go to list . It is important that people like you and I and everybody research this . The complete disregard in the search for the here and now treatment of those showing symptoms , hospitalizations ect had been and out and out complete violation of the medical ethics code of medicine . Hydroxychloriquin and other therapeutics have been shown to also work effectively on the treatment of covid . The complete Politicizing of this by governments has been astounding and many should be called out on there negligence. Well that concludes my hopefully informative comment . Fair winds and a following sea…

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    • Thanks for your comments. I do appreciate that you took time to write. I’m a Canadian visitor to Grenada. I’m in no position to make accusations and finger point as to how COVID arrived. As the Grenadian PM said on September 3, now is the time to work together not find faults and play what if’s. Every country is facing challenges relating to this virus. Yes, I’m pro-vaccine but I’m not a doctor, and merely stating my observations, and how my family is responding to the situation we are all in.

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    • “There’s a lot of misinformation around, and you may have heard that it’s okay to take large doses of ivermectin. It is not okay.

      Even the levels of ivermectin for approved human uses can interact with other medications, like blood-thinners. You can also overdose on ivermectin, which can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hypotension (low blood pressure), allergic reactions (itching and hives), dizziness, ataxia (problems with balance), seizures, coma and even death. “

      https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/why-you-should-not-use-ivermectin-treat-or-prevent-covid-19

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      • It is important to note that the FDA is not the authority of all authorities , in fact The FDA doesn’t even conduct there own scientific studies of anything but rather relies on the company that produces the product to provide the scientific data for there review. The track record of the FDA is spotty at best and many drugs that have been approved by them have had to be unapproved later due to complications .
        The 1976 swine flu vaccine approved by the FDA was later pulled because of Gillian Barre syndrome
        2005-2008 GBS and Menigoccal vaccine ,was also pulled because if complications.
        2009-2010 H1N1 influenza vaccine was also approved than pulled due to the development of narcolepsy .
        2013 HPV vaccine recall
        1998- hepatitis B vaccine approved by the FDA than pulled because multiple sclerosis occuring in patients.
        It is also important to note that the FDA also approved oxy codine and said it wasn’t addictive . The small amount of evidence presented(and there’s lots more ) here clearly shows that the FDA is not the gold standard of anything . The W.H.O has ,since the development of ivermectin ,kept a close and accurate record of it’s use and side effects . There record on this shows that of the 4 billion ppl in the last 4 decades that have used ivermectin there has only been a reported 100 deaths associated with side effects . That’s a far cry and completely different than the article you provided . It’s not a secret that many of the top board members of the FDA go on to sit on the boards of many of these drug companies , Pfizer being One of them ,infact big pharma have board members sitting in every media news outlet in the united States accept ABC. The conflict of interest is quite obvious and when adding in the billions spent in advertising and adding the conflict of interest with former FDA employees taking up positions within these companies one you logically question there motives . In my first comment I had offered the suggestions of investigation Ivermectin and it’s use ,I had suggested to view some of Piere Khory interviews ,being he is top in his field and much more qualified than anyone at the FDA ,if you were to atleast check his credentials you would see this to be so . I wouldn’t haven’t been so quick to run to the FDA for information when after all ,they approved Twinkies and as yummy as they are ,not the best thing for you ..

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