The COVID-19 pandemic in Grenada is part of the ongoing global viral pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which was confirmed to have reached Grenada on March 22, 2020. Despite lockdowns and social distancing protocols, it appeared to have reached the level of community spread within one month. However, cases continued to decline through May, and by June 18, the Ministry of Health declared zero active cases -- indicating Grenada's efforts were successful in ridding the country of the virus.
The case fatality ratio for COVID-19 has been much lower than SARS of 2003, but the transmission has been significantly greater, with a significant total death toll. Like most countries, Grenada had increased screening at the airport in early February and begun sending test samples to CARPHA. At 12am on March 23, the airport was closed to commercial passenger traffic indefinitely, and on June 28 it was announced to remain closed until at least the end of July.
March 22—The country's first case ("Patient Zero") was announced, a 50-year-old female patient who returned from the United Kingdom on March 16 and subsequently became sick on March 17, and was officially diagnosed on March 21. At 11:59pm, the airport was shut-down, indefinitely.
March 25—Six more cases announced (5 female, 1 male, ages 50–80), all from Patient Zero's household. The government institutes policy of restricted movement and nightly curfew.
March 28—Two more cases announced (2 female, ages 50–80), one sat nearby Patient Zero on the March 16 flight; another had relatives visiting from New York City, arrived March 17. The one who sat near Patient Zero on the March 16 flight was a 50-year-old male who became symptomatic on March 26, was tested in Grenada and told to self-quarantine while awaiting the results. Instead, he fled with his family via an Air Canada flight en route back to the UK before the test results were returned (which were a positive diagnosis).
March 29—Government announces 24-hour curfew for one week
April 1— One new case announced—a 58-year-old male who arrived on a flight from New York City on March 19
April 3— Two new cases announced. One was a 73-year-old male whose spouse had been diagnosed and announced on March 28 (sat near Patient Zero on the March 16 flight from the UK); the other patient was a taxi driver who had interacted with a previously diagnosed patient
April 6— Government renews curfew/lockdown for another two weeks (through April 20). Tests are now being done at St. George's University.
April 10— Two cases announced, all from households of previous cases (total= 14 positive, 92 tests in total).
April 18— Government extended the 24-hour curfew for an additional week (through April 27), although with increased exceptions during designated "shopping" days and expectation of relaxing the curfew after this final curfew period.
April 20— Case #15: First potential case of community spread announced by Minister Nickolas Steele, in which an individual had been admitted to the General Hospital and tested positive on the rapid (antibody) test (confirmed via PCR on 22-April as Case #15). The 45 year-old-man initially tested negative via the rapid test, then positive in a subsequent test later on. Several samples were then tested via PCR on island (at St. George's University) and via CARPHA, the results of which were indeed positive.
April 25— Three new cases were announced, two from the workplace of Case #15 and one unrelated. The two workers (male, ages 62 an 59) were found through contact-tracing. The third case was a 50-year-old female that had arrived on-island on March 16, subsequently self-quarantined, and then requested a test on her own initiative, despite not exhibiting any symptoms. This 18th case has raised suspicion as to whether it was actually import-related (38 days after having arrived) or whether she acquired it in Grenada. Two of her roommates also tested positive for antibodies, suggesting they had the virus previously and since recovered. These additional cases were not added to the official case tally.
April 28— One new case announced (another workplace colleague of Case #15); additionally, 3 new cases recovered (totaling 10 recovered now, 8 active, 1 off-island).
April 29— 20th case announced (a 54 year old female relative of one of the previous workplace cases), along with 3 recoveries of previous cases. This marks five workers testing positive from the Caribbean Agro flour factory in Tempe, St. George's.
May 2— Case #21 announced, another one from the Tempe factory (related to Case #15), this time a male in his early 20s-- the youngest patient yet, and one who was asymptomatic and initially tested negative (two rapid tests are typically given over a few days and this individual tested positive on the second time and then positive with a subsequent PCR test).
May 10— with no additional cases, government announced a relaxation of the curfew and semi-regular business operations starting Monday, May 11.
May 15— Grenada recorded its 22nd positive Covid-19 patient - an asymptomatic 8 year old female (the youngest case yet), also related to case #15.
May 25— A returned cruise-ship worker who had been quarantined upon repatriation on May 24 tested positive. Since the case had been quarantined upon arrival, it did not change current reopening efforts, but Minister Steele warned that cases like this will continue as the country opens up, so the main focus is on identifying and containing it each time.
June 17— Eight repatriated cruise ship workers tested positive on the antibody test but not PCR. Nonetheless, as with May 25 case, the government appears unwilling to include positive repatriated cases in the country's official tally.
June 18— With no new (local) cases reported in June, those previously diagnosed continued to recover, eventually testing negative on two PCR tests, spaced one week apart. On June 18, the Ministry of Health declared there were no active cases remaining in Grenada, as indicated by their continued testing regime.
June 28— It was announced that the airport will remain closed until at least the end of July.
The government of Prime ministerKeith Mitchell instituted a series of increasingly tightening social distancing and quarantine policies that eventually led to a full country lockdown. Prior to the island's first case (but in anticipation of it occurring), schools and public gatherings were banned and social distancing encouraged on March 14. It was known that at least three persons who later tested positive to Covid-19 elsewhere had traveled through Grenada. Following the first confirmed case on March 22, the airport was closed to commercial traffic and remained closed indefinitely.
On March 25, emergency powers were implemented to restrict movement and nightly curfews. Businesses unable to enforce social distancing were ordered to be closed (e.g., many restaurants and bars became take-out only). These were quickly revised into a full, 24-hour lockdown on March 30, where all citizens were to remain in their homes and all business were closed except essential services described in the act. Specific grocery days were permitted under control of the RGPF, and various changes were experimented with how to effectively handle shopping days (e.g., surname days, times for senior citizens, etc.). The first 24-hour period was to last one week, but following continued exposure of new cases, it was expanded for two additional weeks (thru April 20),, then another week (now with relaxed protocols), and again for a fifth week (thru May 5).[a] On April 18, Emergency Powers were officially extended an additional six months, solely as a precaution should new cases arise (rather than have them expire every few weeks).
With no new cases in the first week of May, Prime Minister Keith Mitchell announced a relaxation of the 24-hour curfew rules, with pre-approved businesses (e.g., grocery stores, banks, etc.) allowed to open every day again, beginning May 11, albeit with continued maintenance of a curfew from 7pm to 5pm. Among other things, construction projects and landscaping could also restart, as could travel between the sister islands, although international borders would remain closed until early June. Nonetheless, the ban on public buses remained in effect, limiting access to those who owned private vehicles, and restaurants remained take-out only.
These easements continued into the week of May 25, with the reopening of retail stores and beautification shops (e.g., hair salons and barbers), as well as public ferry service between Grenada and Carriacou. No date was given for opening the airport, but Minister Steele ensured the public that a two-week notice would precipitate the airport opening and that it would not happen until at least a "three month supply" of rapid tests had been acquired on island (see Economic Effects below). Similarly, public buses were not yet allowed to recommence service, and negotiations with the bus association were frayed by government's refusal to allow a $0.50 price increase in return for the spatially-distanced, reduced passenger loads required (bus transport restarted on June 1 despite lack of agreement) (see Economic Effects below).
As cases continued to decline throughout June, Emergency Powers were continued, but with incremental loosening. On June 16, the daily curfew was loosened from 5am to 9pm (previously from 6am to 7pm) and in-dining restaurants were allowed, so long as they were approved by the Ministry of Health beforehand. On June 28, the curfew was again relaxed to 5am-11pm.
Testing and Tracing
As faster testing (e.g., antibody tests) became available through the help of St. George's University and Venezuela, the government became increasingly confidant in very low (if any) community spread. While the PM has mentioned June as an anticipated full internal opening (still keeping borders closed), the low spread of the disease has encouraged the RGPF to offer increasing exceptions to the lockdown rules. By April 18, government relayed their expectation to relax the 24-hour curfew period after April 27, since they had then tested 116 PCR and 82 "rapid" (antibody) tests, with no new cases discovered (although widespread testing will continue). Indeed, they also announced that 7 of the infected persons had now recovered.
However, this attitude of victory soon changed on April 20. At the start of the relaxed-curfew week (April 20–24), the RGPF made a morning press conference clarifying the businesses allowed to open and general protocols for the next week, which included opening parish boundaries for the first time in four weeks. Many people rightly treated this as the start of a reopening period. But at noon, Minister Nickolas Steele made an emergency announcement that a new patient (Case #15) had been admitted to the General Hospital on April 19, exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19 and tested positive for the rapid (antibody) test. After two days of waiting, the patient was confirmed positive via multiple PCR tests. Since the individual—as far as is known—had not traveled, nor been in contact with anyone who had traveled, nor been in contact with any positive cases, it appeared to be the first case of community spread, likely acquired from an undiagnosed, asymptomatic case. On April 25, the third such asymptomatic case was confirmed (like the others, considered "import-related"), along with two colleagues of Case #15. It was also announced that 175 PCR and 1000 rapid tests had been conducted to date (April 25), including 69 employees from the workplace of Case #15 and 57 tests in Carriacou and Petite Martinique. By April 29, it was announced that 1200 rapid tests and 206 PCR tests had been conducted, although the number of positive rapid tests was not released, as the official count is based solely on active cases confirmed via PCR.
By May 5th, 309 PCR and 1472 Rapid tests had been conducted, which were then expanded for several rounds of testing of the factory in Tempe (related to Case #15).
These tests came back negative, confirming that community spread (if it occurred at all) had now abated. On May 12, the Ministry of Health reported they had conducted 412 PCR tests and 2007 rapid tests in total. On May 15, upon announcing the 22nd positive case, Ministry of Health recorded 2459 rapid tests conducted and 454 PCR. By May 25, contact-tracing investigations into Case #15 were said to be closed, with no further individuals having tested positive. It remains unclear, however, whether Case #15 was indeed a case of community spread or someone at the factory had acquired the virus through interactions on the port. The entire crew of at least one cargo vessel with whom Case #15 interacted with was tracked down and tested, but all were negative.
In instituting its response to the pandemic, the government of Grenada has worked in concert with PAHO, CARPHA, and regional governments. However, the closing of borders led to tension with St. Vincent's, where the government of Ralph Gonsalves was much more lax. On April 11, Gonsalves criticized Mitchell's treatment of Grenada's Grenadine Islands, stating "I want to say to the people of Carriacou & Petite Martinique that if you have difficulty in getting food, we can help"—to which Mitchell, when asked in a press briefing, called "grossly irresponsible." The spat was a reminder of the historical tensions regarding ownership of the Grenadine islands.[b] Following a deadly fire on May 19 at Union Island's only petrol station, Grenada announced efforts were underway to offer daily refueling assistance.
As with the rest of the world, the Coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on Grenada's economy, least not the ripple effects of a collapsed tourism industry. On March 20, 2020, the government announced a stimulus package to provide income support to small businesses, suspension of various taxes, and unemployment benefits to eligible citizens, which took about a month to fully roll out. Seven sub-committees have also been set up to focus on the needs of tourism & citizen by investment, construction, education, small businesses, agriculture and fisheries, manufacturing, and e-commerce. To help meet the short-falls, Grenada a received rapid loan of USD $22.4 million from the IMF, in a package aimed at the Eastern Caribbean countries of Dominica, Grenada, and St. Lucia, more than doubling the previous USD $14.38 million Grenada owed to the lender. Another loan of $5.9 million was secured through the Caribbean Development Bank.
On March 22, Grenada's international airport and Carriacou's regional airport were closed to all commercial passenger traffic, and remained so through the 2020 summer. With the stoppage of passenger flights, courier mail services (such as the USPS and Royal Mail) were halted, with only private courier flights like Fed-Ex and DHL allowed. On May 29, it was announced that June 30 was the anticipated opening of the borders (and thus, airports), with the expectation that all incoming passengers would receive a temperature check, rapid antibody test, and would self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival. A mobile app will be employed to monitor symptoms and movements of individuals during their quarantine period. On June 26, Clarice Modeste-Curwen, Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation, announced that the airports were prepared to reopen. However, in a speech to the nation two days later (June 28), Prime Minister Keith Mitchell stated international travel would likely not commence until early August, citing the resurgence of the virus in the United States (a major source country for Grenada's tourism) and the refusal of international airlines to require passenger testing prior to boarding.
Public bus transport was allowed to recommence on June 1, but with reduced passenger loads (12 people max, including driver and conductor-- later increased to 15).  On June 10, the government claimed to have paid $360k in stimulus to bus drivers, equating $800/month per bus. The bus association has thanked government for this stimulus, but (noting the stimulus will end once bus operations restart) they requested a price increase of $0.50/passenger going forward to offset losses of enforced protocols, emergency power curfews, and suppressed passenger traffic in general. No agreement was reached, so buses restarted operation without further government support.
^ All of the Grenadines had once been part of Grenada's political unit under both French and British colonial administrations. In 1783 (partly influenced by the temporary French re-capture of Grenada in 1779), the British decided to annex most of the Grenadines to St. Vincent’s oversight (from Bequia to Union). After independence in 1979, the country included them in its official name, "St. Vincent and the Grenadines" (SVG). A referendum in 2016 that included (among many constitutional reforms) changing Grenada's official name to "Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique," failed despite the ruling party's total majority in parliament.