Let it rip: St Lucia announces revised COVID-19 isolation and quarantine protocols

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By Caribbean News Global contributor

CASTRIES, St Lucia – A press release, Friday, January 21, 2022, from the Ministry of Health (MOF) reads, “although Saint Lucia has not received confirmation of the presence of the Omicron variant on island, the unprecedented increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19 suggests that it is present. Our daily infection rate has risen from 98.5 to 166.3 per 100, 000 cases over a seven day period, and our Rt has been calculated at 3.3, which is the highest since the commencement of this pandemic.

That’s just one of many to account for observing – let it rip – amid revised isolation and quarantine protocols. An approach that incorporates ‘operating blindly’ rather than relying on science and data in real-time.

The latest statistics also illustrate the inability to diagnose the Omicron variant, relative to other Caribbean countries, including Trinidad and Tobago and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The MOF data reports that “as of January 20, 2022, a total of 18, 746 confirmed cases of COVID-19. And to put a finer point on that, says, “the commencement of the current fifth wave has been approximated to be around December 16, 2021, and since then, over 5, 623 cases have been diagnosed with an average of 161 cases daily. There are currently 3, 921 active cases.” And, while there’s not a flicker of optimism to go around, the MOH communication reads:“ As we continue to manage this current wave, MOH appeals to the public to adhere to the established protocols in order to reduce further transmission to family, friends and other loved ones.”

To put a finer point on that advice is the sought of information about the expectation that reads: “Although the evidence suggests that the Omicron variant is less severe than previous ones, its high transmissibility has resulted in more persons seeking medical care and the consequent overwhelming of healthcare services.”

However, the best indication of what to expect reads:

  • Effective Monday, January 24, 2022, [for] persons who are considered close contacts of a confirmed case of COVID-19, and do not have any symptoms of COVID-19, the quarantine period may be terminated after receiving a negative PCR test result (which should be taken on Day 7 after the last contact with the confirmed case of COVID-19).
  • If the test was done before the seventh (Day 7) after the last contact with the COVID-19 case and is negative result, that result may be a false negative and the individual is required to get tested again on Day 7. If symptoms develop during the quarantine period, the individual is advised to get another test.
  • Individuals who are fully vaccinated and test positive for COVID-19 but have no symptoms, may end the isolation period after 7 days. If however, symptoms develop after testing positive, the isolation period must be restarted, with Day 0 being the first day of symptoms and terminated on completion of Day 10.
  • For unvaccinated persons who test positive for COVID-19 and are asymptomatic, the isolation period remains ten (10) days from the date of the sample which led to the confirmation of COVID-19. If symptoms develop after testing positive, the isolation period should start over. Day 0 is the first day of symptoms and the 10 days of isolation must be restarted.

Finally, MOH messaging says: “All persons who test positive for COVID-19 and have symptoms, regardless of vaccination status), a 10-day isolation period must be completed. The individual must also be asymptomatic for 3 consecutive days (days 8, 9 & 10) in order to be discharged from isolation.”

Saint Lucia is struggling in different ways to stay afloat as the COVID-19 pandemic and its variants continue to rage across the island, noted:

Throughout this pandemic, new evidence continues to emerge on the characteristics of the SARS- CoV-2. It is based on this that the MOH has made a decision to adjust the isolation and quarantine periods for confirmed cases and close contacts of cases respectively,” and “As we continue to work jointly to manage this pandemic the MOH appeals to the public to continue practicing the standard recommendations to prevent the spread of infection.

Meanwhile, the ministry of tourism, MOH and Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA) announced technical difficulties with the Saint Lucia Travel Authorisation Portal that functions via: www.stlucia.org/covid19

Effective Friday, 21 January – Wednesday, January 26

“Authorisation Portal vaccinated travelers to Saint Lucia may enter the country without a Travel Approval/Travel Authorization Letter. During the period the following documents are required for boarding your airline or ferry and entry to Saint Lucia:

Fully vaccinated travelers

A negative result from a PCR test taken within 5 days of arrival; and vaccination proof.

*Fully vaccinated means that two weeks has passed since the second dose of a two-dose vaccine, or since a single-dose vaccine. Vaccine proof must be presented.

Unvaccinated travelers

Travel authorization letter; and a negative result from a PCR test taken within 5 days of arrival.

Travellers who are still testing positive after covid infection

Travel authorization letter and; vaccination proof if relevant

Important

  • Agents (airline/ship) must ensure that travelers have the relevant documents before granting permission to board. Persons who refuse to provide proof of negative test should not be boarded.

Social media commenters noted:

“Are these really professionals giving us that kind of advice. Correct me if I’m wrong but doing the test 7 days after being in contact with a positive case, to me this is too long and could be the difference in developing a mild or severe form of the virus. I’m utterly confused at the information that comes out from time to time.”

“Are the health authorities following a script and/or adjusting to suit their respective citizens?”

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