Before the weekend spike of coronavirus cases, the nation had recorded a total of 45 confirmed cases since March. The island’s previous peak for a daily total was six cases, according to the World Health Organization.
The 26 positive cases linked to the resort “include guests and employees, as well as their contacts,” the Health Ministry statement said. “The discovery was made following proactive testing of employees and guests on Friday and Saturday, as part of the Ministry’s continuous testing of front-line staff in sectors directly related to tourism, travel and health.”
Acting chief medical officer Shawn Charles said in a news conference that they expect the case count to grow as they continue testing close contacts of the positive guests and employees.
Due to the new rise in cases, the government of Grenada also announced on Monday that it will now limit all gatherings to 10 people, require businesses to close by 10 p.m., and limit restaurants and bars to takeout only.
Prime Minister Keith Mitchell gave a public address Monday about the new measures, and he said that 13 of the Sandals-linked cases live in the same household as a Sandals Grenada staff member. He also said officials are working to determine if the resort breached health protocols.
“The Ministry of Health is revisiting the protocols for all hotels and resorts,” Mitchell said. “The magnitude of this new cluster of cases means it is not business as usual during this holiday season.”
A spokesperson for Sandals Resorts said in an email that the resort remains “open for current guests to enjoy" and that quarantine measures are being strictly enforced so that "there is zero risk to the rest of the resort’s operations.”
“Out of an abundance of caution, we are not accepting new guests at this time and are working with them to accommodate their travel plans to another one of our resorts in the Caribbean region," the spokesperson said. "We will evaluate this policy in the coming days once findings are complete.”
Grenada currently requires all visitors to obtain a negative coronavirus test less than 72 hours before arrival, and it states in its Ministry of Health guidelines: “Health experts believe that people getting tested within 72 hours of travel will help to lessen potentially positive diagnoses after travellers enter the island. The closer the period is between testing and flight, the less time individuals will have to contract the virus in their communities of origin before boarding the flight.”
“The Government’s first responsibility is to protect the lives of our people, and we are resolute in taking all necessary steps to do so,” Grenada’s Health Ministry said. “This outbreak can be contained, if we all work together.”