Authorities in Antigua and Barbuda have extended their nationwide lockdown until Wednesday, May 13, to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country. The measures, which were introduced on Friday, April 3, dictate that residents are only permitted to leave their homes if providing or seeking emergency support and supplies, or undertaking exercise between the hours of 06:00 and 18:00 (local time). Essential services, such as food shops, pharmacies, and hardware stores, are operating with reduced opening hours; all other businesses are to remain closed until the abovementioned date.
Travel restrictions will also remain in place until Thursday, May 14, with VC Bird International Airport (ANU) closed to routine commercial flights. The following types of flights are permitted subject to special government approval during this period: cargo, repatriation, flights using private planes, and those carried out by regional airline LIAT. For those flights, any non-Antigua and Barbuda national with a travel history in Canada, China, any country in Europe, Iran, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and the US, within 28 days, will not be permitted entry into the country.
Maritime ports are also closed until May 14, other than to emergency and cargo vessels, and the ferry operating between Antigua and Barbuda.
Failure to comply with the state-of-emergency regulations, which were first introduced on March 25 and will continue until May 23, will result in either a fine of XCD 5000 and/or six-months imprisonment.
Antigua and Barbuda has recorded 24 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and three associated deaths as of Tuesday, April 28.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
• Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
• When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
• If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.