Gros Islet Friday Night – COVID19: An impending mixology

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By Caribbean News Global contributor

CASTRIES, St Lucia – Friday, April 29 is the drop-dead date mentioned early and confirmed for Gros Islet Friday Night, the best and largest ‘street party’ where everything conceivable is available. This time around, Gros Islet Friday Night and COVID19 double as an impending mixology class.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) reported Monday, April 25, 2022, that the “daily infection rate for the last seven days is 11.6 per 100,000 population per day which represents a 93 percent increase from last week, with a 14 percent average testing positivity rate and a transmission rate of 1.3.”

The return of Gros Islet Friday Night also coincides with “ public health partners and the rest of the world in observing the 20th Annual Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA 2022) which runs from April 24 – 30 under the theme: “Are You Fully Vaccinated? Get All Your Shots”.

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Impending mixology class

“Gros Islet Friday Night is going to happen. We are just going to ensure that it is done in a scaled-down manner,” the minister for youth development and sports, and member of parliament for Gros Islet,” relying on his youthful experience.

However, the minister speaking to reporters on Monday, said: “I can tell you, as the minister and the member of parliament, we are seeking to hold Gros Islet Friday Night in as safe an environment as possible,” claiming he wants to see vendors get some relief. Several vendors have been suffering for over two years, unable to ply their trade and provide basic amenities for their families.

A commentator on social media requested clarification, stating:

“What I don’t understand is how [are] they going to have this in a safe environment. Day in and Day out, I keep seeing posters of different fetes and boat rides and they keep saying “protocols in full effect” how the hell [are] you going to keep a protocol in a crowded event such as these things. It makes no sense cause the protocols are still not being in effect and it doesn’t make any sense to have those protocols.”

Maintaining a safe environment

In reference to the commencement of the new school term, the MOH on Monday, April 25, advanced the mantra “Maintaining a safe educational environment, stating:

“As of April 24, 2022, Saint Lucia has diagnosed a total of 23,261 cases in country, with 144 active cases presently. The daily infection rate for the last 7 days is 11.6 per 100,000 population per day which represents a 93 percent increase from last week, with a 14 percent average testing positivity rate and a transmission rate of 1.3. We have noted a total of 368 COVID-19 deaths.”

The MOH on Monday also announced in a separate press release: “To date, a total of 53, 461 individuals have been fully vaccinated. Another 5,345 are partially vaccinated and 7, 227 have received their booster shot.”

On Tuesday, April 26, 2022, the MOH held a Health Fair at the Gros-Islet Human Resource Development Centre (HRDC) “to ensure that communities around the island remains healthy by providing health education and medical screening for all.”

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Sharon Belmar-George acknowledged it is important to provide health services to the residents of the various communities to prevent further health complications.

“On our assessment of our health systems; primary health and public care services which we did at the end of last year, we did a review looking at where we are, our various indicators especially based on the impact of our response for COVID-19. We noted that a lot of our indicators we were falling on since our response was focused on COVID-19. So, for this year we are focused on strengthening our health systems, so our primary care services – that is – access to care, ensuring that we can get screening for as many persons as possible. We have been doing those health fairs in a number of communities and [today] we are in the community of Gros-Islet.”

Tuesday, April 26, 2022, MOH reported 36 new cases of COVID-19, adding: “To date, a total of 53, 491 individuals have been fully vaccinated. Another 5, 331 are partially vaccinated and 7, 232 have received their booster shot.”

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Dominic Fedee, a former minister in the office of the prime minister with responsibility for tourism, information and broadcasting, promoting the island’s Food and Rum Festival, [2018] said: “Historically, we are a rum drinking people.”

“We really are a rum-producing people and historically we really are a rum drinking people. And rum is a very proud and main part of our heritage, and this festival will better refine and leverage the tremendous asset that exists in culture, in food and in showcasing to the world our heritage.”

Meanwhile, signs suggest that Gros Islet Friday Night is going to happen – “safely” – grounded in the “science” – then, why not proceed, if people would not let their guard down in a mass crowd “street-fete”.

This would certainly be edifying to public health research and redefining our culture would not be a bother. And perhaps, the national strategy for a “new normal” of life with COVID-19, should read: “We’re going to have to coexist with COVID.”

Consequently, despite recent COVID-19 increases and breakthrough infections cases, there is also the expression “learn to live with COVID-19.”

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