Dear Governor and Premier
Today the World Health Organization upgraded the global risk of the Coronavirus outbreak to "very high" - its top level of risk assessment thus far. While the virus is now spreading globally at an alarming rate, for the Government of Montserrat it appears to be business as usual. While some Caribbean islands are turning cruise ships away, they are still being allowed to dock and offload locally. While other countries are preventing public gatherings, we are blithely preparing to receive thousands of visitors during St Patrick’s Week from countries in which the virus has surfaced, is spreading and has already killed people.
You both have a profound duty to the people of Montserrat and its children in particular to give immediate and serious consideration to whether St Patrick’s Week should be celebrated this year in the teeth of a deadly virus that may be on the verge of becoming a global pandemic. Should our visitors introduce the virus to Montserrat both of you will have to face some very hard questions over any deaths that may ensue.
As Montserrat is an island, its residents do not have the luxury of moving elsewhere until the celebrations are over. Of course, the financial cost and disappointment to the island and visitors would be very unfortunate but a price cannot be put on lives.
I also request that you address the following issues:
Has a proper travel advisory been issued to all persons travelling to Montserrat informing them that if they come from a location known to have positive cases and develop flu like symptoms they should stay at home, be assessed by a physician at home and if treatment or inpatient care is required they should contact a member of our public health team for verification and instructions on what should be done until the fever or any signs of infection have abated?
Has an adequate public health education programme been implemented locally reminding people, and especially children and the elderly, of protective measures for persons with flu like symptoms and fever, such as washing hands, covering your mouth and face when coughing etc.?
What contingency plans are in place for managing confirmed cases and can Montserrat’s already beleaguered healthcare system, that can hardly cope with the resident population in normal circumstances, also cope with visitors who may succumb to the virus while here?
Kindly direct your answers to these grave concerns not to me but instead to local residents to whom you both owe a weighty duty, as publicly and widely as you possibly can.