Cabo Verde: People stuck on islands with virus ‘can go home after negative test’

Cabo Verde’s government is now allowing people who have been kept back on islands with cases of Covid-19 to return to their island of residence, but only after they are tested for the new coronavirus and a negative result obtained.

A cabinet resolution to that effect came into force at the end of the day on Monday that is aimed at relieving the difficulties created for people detained on several islands since the suspension at the end of March of all inter-island air and sea links to halt the spread of the virus in the archipelago. 

The document, which Lusa had sight of on Tuesday, authorises the return to their homes of “people who are outside their usual island of residence, notably for professional or health reasons” in view of the “ban on flights and sea links resulting from the declaration of a state of emergency.”

In order to return home, people must complete an online form requesting authorisation for the journey, addressed to the civil defence office of the municipality where they are located.

On islands with positive cases of Covid-19 – until now only Boa Vista, Santiago and São Vicente – people may only travel back to their island of residence can only be authorised by the Ministry of Internal Affairs after a declaration by the health department certifying that they “do not constitute a risk of propagation” of the coronavirus, “by carrying out a compulsory laboratory test with a negative result.”

On islands without positive cases of Covid-19 – currently all six others – it is possible to leave to return home provided the local health department gives permission.

Cabo Verde on Saturday began a second period of emergency, maintaining general restrictions on people’s movements and the closure of most companies, as well as a general lockdown that has been in force since 29 March, but differentiated by islands. 

Under the declaration issued by the country’s president, Jorge Carlos Fonseca, the state of emergency is currently valid until midnight on 2 May on islands that have confirmed cases of the coronavirus and until midnight on 26 April on the rest.

Regular inter-island links remain suspended but it is now possible to make occasional trips to allow the return to the islands of residence.

The country has so far had 67 cases of infection by the new coronavirus that causes Covid-19, on the islands of Boa Vista (52 cases), Santiago (14) and São Vicente (01).

One of the patients in the capital, Praia, on Santiago island, is now considered to have recovered from the disease. The country’s first case, confirmed on 19 March on the island of Boa Vista, in a 62-year-old British tourist, ended in his death.

Two other foreign tourists who were on Boa Vista and were diagnosed as having the virus, returned in March to their countries of origin (the UK and the Netherlands), leaving 63 active cases in the country.

“The transport of persons authorised to return to their islands of habitual residence is organised by the National Civil Protection Service in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism and Transport, the Ministry of the Marine Economy and the Ministry of Health and Social Security, in the case of air or sea connections, or sanitary journeys respectively,” reads the new cabinet resolution, which adds that the cost of the journeys “are, in principle, borne by the persons concerned themselves.” 

The Covid-19 pandemic has worldwide so far claimed more than 167,000 lives and infected more than 2.4 million people in 193 countries and territories.