By Caribbean News Global contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia – The government of Saint Lucia mantra to excellence, “building a new Saint Lucia” continues indiscriminately from the realism for COVID-19, prioritizing tourism and preference economics ahead of the health and wellbeing of people amid the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Alert – Level 2, “recommends that people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 postpone nonessential travel to Saint Lucia.”
Notwithstanding the even popularized hashtag #bestCMOever and #IstandwiththeCMO – went fishing for US, UK and Canadian visitors, have cost the island more pain and suffering than economic prosperity and happiness. Notable, another tourism market for Saint Lucia, Toronto, Canada, returns to lock-down from Monday, November 23, 2020.
On Thursday, November 19, the ministry of health (MOH) received confirmation of 20 new cases of COVID-19. This brings the total number of cases diagnosed in the country to date to 203.
“It puts us at this stage in a very critical position where if we don’t work to break the chain of transmission with immediate effect, it would lead to our forecasting and our projections over the next 14 days to almost tripling the numbers that we are noting to date,” chief medical officer, Dr Sharon Belmar George, warned.
In the interim CARICOM/OECS Members States continues to slap the island, justifiable, for its COVID-19 hiatuses.
On Wednesday, November 18, 2020, the government of Dominica reclassified Saint Lucia as High-Risk stating, “Travelers from Saint Lucia to Dominica must submit the online health screening … and submit a negative PCR test where swabs were taken within 24-72 hours of arrival into Dominica.”
Earlier this month, CARICOM countries opting out of a ‘travel bubble’, as cases of COVID-19 continued to rise in territories previously identified as being a part of that arrangement.’
In October, The Unity Labour Party of St Vincent and the Grenadines Facebook page illustrated two points:
“While our neighbours who sell passports are all broke, we handled the pandemic well,” added “I am forever grateful for your trust and love. I will keep lifting SVG higher and never sell out our national identity and land to foreigners. Selling out to the highest bidder is not the path to job creation.”
The political leader of the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) and leader of the opposition, Philip J Pierre, delivering his address at the opening session of the SLP annual conference of delegates, Sunday, November 15, 2020, called upon the Saint Lucia government to deliver “a proactive approach to fighting COVID by doing screen testing in all communities and called on the government to embrace the latest technology that will reduce the results of testing to minutes rather than days.”
He further advised: “In light of the rising levels of infections, the government should allow for an increase in the country’s testing capacity by permitting the use of the forensic lab and private labs with established PCR capacity. An increase in testing capacity will lead to a more effective system of testing and tracing.”
The SLP has repeated its advice to the helpless and irresponsive government of Saint Lucia to institute second testing for COVID-19 for visitors to Saint Lucia, given the announcement by the CMO on Thursday, November 19, 2020, “that two non-nationals had arrived in the country without the approved COVID 19 test and had subsequently tested positive for the virus.”
“This development is deeply troubling since it questions the government’s repeated claims that there is no need to be concerned with the arrival of visitors, in particular tourists, by air to Saint Lucia, through the so-called “front door” as the protocols being used by Saint Lucia are robust and emulated by the world, including New York. The government has also stated that no visitor can come to the country or board a plane to Saint Lucia without evidence of a PCR test and that no one can enter with a positive test for COVID-19,” the SLP said in a press release, Friday, November 20.
The SLP renewed calls to further protect Saint Lucians, reference the proactive approach that “prime minister Mia Mottley of Barbados recently provided empirical evidence of the value of such testing when she revealed that despite the fact that all visitors to Barbados must have a PCR test, they are given a mandatory second test 4-5 days after arrival and that 95 percent of the persons testing positive for COVID-19 in Barbados are discovered through the second test.
“There is also evidence from clinical experts throughout the medical epidemiology world showing that one can test negative in the morning and test positive in the afternoon. A person can test negative in one nostril and test positive in the other nostril, at the same time, because of the strength of virus viral load at the point of testing,” the SLP said.
Despite the facts, data and science, and pragmatism of CARICOM/OECS Members States to collaborate between government and people to manage COVID-19 reasonable well – Saint Lucia portrays the mantra of a lone ranger, pandering to political economics and the dictates of the island tourism boss, heading into an election, with COVID-19 wardens to police the local population, indiscriminately.