COVID-19 and Saba
Brief description of Coronavirus
COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which is a respiratory pathogen. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and fatigue. Less common symptoms include sore throat, headache, loss of taste or smell, muscle or joint pain. Most people who contract COVID-19 will experience mild symptoms and will not require any hospital treatment. A small number of people who contract COVID-19 will experience serious disease and require medical care. Persons aged 60 and over, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart and lung problems, diabetes, obesity or cancer, are at higher risk of developing a serious illness.
Measures to reduce the risk of acquiring and spreading the virus include physical distancing, wearing a mask, keeping rooms well ventilated, avoiding crowds, good hand hygiene, and coughing into a bent elbow or tissue.
Reducing the risk of severe COVID-19 disease
People with chronic illnesses should adhere strictly to their medication and treatments. They, but goes for all of us, should also strive to build up a strong immune system by eating a healthy balanced diet rich in fruit and vegetables, maintaining good vitamin D levels by spending time outside during the day, exercising daily, and getting enough good quality sleep.
For more detailed information about COVID-19: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/question-and-answers-hub
Vision for Saba: containment
On Saba, the short-term objective is to prevent the introduction and circulation of the SARS-CoV2 virus by having strict entry measures at our borders that include hygiene, quarantine, and test requirements. Doing so allows life on Saba to continue close to normal. Should COVID-19 still be found, different levels of measures can be implemented to contain the disease again. This is a similar approach as, e.g., Anguilla and St Kitts, New Zealand, and many Asian countries.
Saba plans to follow this containment strategy until a vaccine (or less likely, a cure) becomes available. A vaccine will not be available for everyone on Saba simultaneously; it can be expected that priority will be given to people with a higher risk of severe disease and healthcare workers.
Saba cannot stay closed forever. It may take much longer to have enough vaccine for everyone. Opening up Saba and allowing some circulation of the virus could be considered after the vulnerable people on Saba are protected by the vaccine. It will then be important to bear in mind that a vaccine will not be 100% effective, and in rare cases, healthy young adults can also experience severe COVID-19 disease.
Entry to Saba
As of November 1st, 2020, all persons are welcome to apply for an exemption to enter Saba. Those arriving from medium and high-risk countries will be required to complete two weeks of home quarantine. A negative PCR test is necessary to enter Saba from high-risk countries. This should be taken no more than 72 hours before arrival on Saba if originating from the region and 120 hours before arrival if originating from an international destination.
Quarantine on Saba
The epidemiological situation of the country from which one arrives determines the quarantine measures whilst on Saba. Countries are categorized as high, medium, or low risk based on the rate of community transmission.
Persons arriving from high-risk countries are required to home quarantine for 14 days. A PCR test is taken before the completion of quarantine on day 10 or 11. Persons arriving from medium risk are required to home quarantine for 14 days. No PCR test is required before completing quarantine. Those originating from low-risk countries are not required to quarantine.
Persons in quarantine are required to remain at home, except for a front yard or balcony, at all times during the 14 days. During this time, one is not permitted to receive guests. If it is necessary to have groceries/items delivered to the quarantine location, they should be left at the front door with no contact between persons.
Mobile security will be in operation throughout and will engage in random checks to ensure persons in quarantine remain at their home.
Staff from public health will maintain regular contact via phone with those in quarantine to assess personal health status and psychological wellbeing during the quarantine process.
Exceptions to strict quarantine for essential workers
In some cases, short-term essential workers will be allowed to perform work duties during their quarantine period; examples include filling the ATM-machines, medical specialists, and maintenance personnel. All essential workers need to have tested negative before arrival and must adhere to stringent hygiene regulations during their work.