By Caribbean News Global contributor
St Kitts / St Lucia – Revelation from the authorities in St Kitts and Nevis that three asymtomatic persons have been quarantined at home, six quarantined at tourist facilities and 50 persons are being monitored daily by the public health team,” in an effort to prevent, detect, contain and manage the COVID-19; while in Saint Lucia, the government has been ‘labeled irresponsible,’ warrants numerous concerns.
In a destiny of coincidence, St Kitts and Nevis, leader of the opposition, Dr Denzil L Douglas and Saint Lucia opposition leader, Philip J. Pierre, addressed the COVID-19 situation that their respective country is facing.
In Saint Lucia, opposition leader Pierre declared that Saint Lucia is the worst prepared country in the region for the deadly coronavirus COVID-19, and reaffirmed that the government should have taken measures to prepare the country in the event that the virus hits.
At Tuesday’s town-hall meeting of the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) opposition leader Pierre told the audience, that a responsible government should have made it a priority to have COVID-19 testing equipment available on the island. He made mention that an SLP administration would have the wisdom to allocated safe quarantine facilities, prepare the nation with factual, transparent, command and control competence, that is required for a national response to this deadly virus, capable of destroying the social and economic fabric of the country.
But as predictable. “What did they do”? Pierre asked. “They called us prophets of doom and gloom. They said all kinds of things about us and right now Saint Lucia is the worst prepared island for the coronavirus in the region.”
In St Kitts and Nevis, leader of the opposition, Dr Denzil L Douglas during Tuesday night’s weekly programme “Ask the Leader,” said it is evident that the government has been withholding information for some time from the general public.
“While we understand that it might not be prudent to disclose the hotel facilities where tourists are being monitored, we ought to have been informed which countries they have come from and whether these countries that they arrived from or visited, have been countries for which there are travel advisories issued,” said Dr Douglas.
He expressed the view that the people of St Kitts and Nevis need to know whether the hospitality staff at the tourist facilities have been properly trained to handle the visitors and have been provided with the necessary protective gear.
“There have been concerns expressed by workers at the airport that they have yet to be advised or trained as to what is the protocol for dealing with those persons who are departing the Federation by air. Also, the question is being asked why are cruise ship passengers not being asked whether they have visited any of the 60 countries that currently have cases of the coronavirus,” said Dr Douglas.
He also questioned whether the proper protocols are in place to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus to relatives of the three persons who are quarantined in their homes.
“There is a great need for public information specific to St Kitts and Nevis for the public and visitors”, Dr Douglas added. “And that printed information be disseminated at schools, public places, businesses, the airports and seaports with the relevant information.”
He also called for the COVID-19 concern not to be treated as a political issue as it is a major development that is taking place around the world and is now labelled a pandemic.
“It needs to be treated with all seriousness,” said Dr Douglas, who again pledged to work closely with the government to ensure safety first among the citizens and residents.
The chief medical officer said two incoming air travellers consented to be tested for the COVID-19 virus because they were arriving from countries with local transmission of the coronavirus. These individuals tested negative for COVID-19.
Director of the Washington-based Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) Dr Carissa Ettiene told a CARICOM news conference that PAHO has some concern for countries with weak health systems.
St Kitts and Nevis and Saint Lucia do not currently have the capacity to test for COVID-19. Countries able to test for COVID-19 include Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, Belize, The Bahamas and Haiti, also Martinique, French Guiana, Curacao, Aruba and St Martin and the British territories – Cayman Islands and Bermuda.
“Our work in the region as PAHO is to strengthen member states’ capacity to detect, to contain and to manage cases. We believe there is some capacity in the region that is necessary to ensure maximum capacity in the Caribbean region,” Dr Etienne said.