The Government of Antigua and Barbuda says it has re-examined the conditions under which visitors and nationals returning home can enter the island because of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The country has recorded 68 positive cases and three deaths from the virus that was first detected in China last December and blamed for 516,000 deaths and the infection of nearly 11 million others worldwide.
A statement issued after the weekly Cabinet meeting noted that the “situation continues to be fluid, requiring nimble and responsive changes in policy after weighing all the circumstances”.
It said that the new policy does not require that everyone be tested upon arrival at the VC Bird International Airport.
“Instead, everyone who boards a flight heading to Antigua is required to have undertaken a COVID-19 antigen test, administered within seven days of their departure. Consultations with all the pertinent partners have been undertaken, and the new policy reverses somewhat the announced policy of a week ago.”
The statement said that despite the requirement of the presentation of the certificate upon disembarking, those whose temperatures show that they have a fever, will nevertheless be subjected to testing.
“Either a Sofia2 Rapid Test or a PCR Test will be administered to those showing abnormal temperatures. Arrangements are underway at the VC Bird International Airport arrivals area to construct more health kiosks so that the process of examination can be quicker and more efficient.”
Antigua and Barbuda opened its borders on June 1 and received its first international flight three days later. The island was among the first in the Caribbean to do so after having closed borders in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.
The statement said that Health Minister Molywn Joseph informed the Cabinet that the Commonwealth Coronavirus Covid-19 Tracker has determined that the island is among two of 54 Commonwealth countries that can be deemed fully prepared to address the crisis.
The statement quoted him as saying that the island scored a five out of five on the Commonwealth Tracker scale; Canada was the only other Commonwealth country to have a perfect score.
Joseph also informed that 120 persons are in quarantine including the returning students who were studying in Cuba; the 39 nationals who arrived from the Dominican Republic last Friday; and a smattering of returning nationals who have arrived from the United States.
“These 120 persons will be released from quarantine after spending 14 days and having exhibited no symptoms. Testing may be carried out, depending on the continued health status. The cost to be borne by the Government is in the region of US$130 daily,” the statement noted.