By Caribbean News Global contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia (CNG Health) – Well-intentioned commendation from Philip Pierre, leader of the opposition and political leader of the Saint Lucia Labour (SLP) was reiterated Wednesday, to prime minister of Barbados Mia Amor Mottley and prime minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit, for sharing 3,000 doses of Oxford AstraZeneca with the people of Saint Lucia, specified that with this illustration of solidarity, healthcare workers should be given priority.
“With 1,500 dosed and no clear plan for more, I agree, prioritizing frontline workers is an imperative,” said a commentor on social media.
The contribution of 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from the prime minister Narendra Modi of India to the Caribbean community, has assisted with the commencement of vaccination of regional leaders and front line workers.
Based on the donated doses to Saint Lucia – 1,500 frontline workers are expected to be vaccinated; meantime prime minister Allen Chastanet with great fanfare was inoculated Wednesday. His Facebook post read: “Getting vaccinated- vaccinate for You, For Yours, For Us #StaySafe #WeCanWeWill.”
“The SLP is in full support of a vaccination programme and had called for its immediate roll-out from December 2020. Aware of the limited number of vaccines available, Philip Pierre, although grateful for the invitation extended by the Ministry of Health (MOH), to receive the vaccine believes that all healthcare workers should be given priority at this time,” a press release for the SLP said Wednesday.
“Pierre assured the population that he will take the vaccine to promote public confidence as he had previously stated. However, the people of Saint Lucia should be put first, especially those on the frontline,” explained, “In the first phase of the vaccination allocation approximately 5,500 persons will need to be vaccinated over a two-three-month period. Securing the additional vaccines should be a priority for this government in order to safely inoculate high risk and high exposure persons first then the remaining population.”
Open the economy?
In anticipation of the Government of Saint Lucia (GOSL) AstraZeneca vaccines forthcoming from the following markets, COVAX Facility: 74,000 – AMSP CARICOM: 35,739 – government of India: 185,100; the prime minister is seemingly confident that “this [Saint Lucia] country has to be able to open its economy. I am calling on all Saint Lucians to play your part. We have to reopen our economy, we have to get our children back to school, we have to be able to be open to the rest of the world,” he said.
“We are not doing this for tourists. We’re doing this for ourselves. We are doing this for the thousands of Saint Lucians who did not have a job and our economy does not have the ability to replace those jobs,” he added. “We are doing it for the taxi drivers; we are doing it for the bus drivers; we’re doing it for the farmers. We are doing it for the government, that we have resources to pay for all these additional services that we are having to put in place.”
According to the prime minister’s understanding of economics and the health crisis: “If we didn’t have to have tourism open we wouldn’t, but we don’t have the ability to replace the revenue that tourism was giving to our own citizens and we must all understand and appreciate that,” he continued. “It’s the money that they have that keep the small grocery stores going. It’s the money they have that they can continue to pay the banks,” he explained. “And sadly, the only way to do that is to have our economy open.”
The prime minister also believes that the government has found the right balance to “co-exist with COVID-19”. A rather ridiculous assertion. Simply put; how can one co-exist with coronavirus that is likely to kill you?
Meantime the prime minister of Saint Lucia expects the nation’s speedy coronavirus vaccine campaign and “reopen our economy” that is underpinned by tourism, major source markets, Canada, Europe, US and the UK are cautious that it is “too early” to open up their economy, advises travellers to refrain for booking vacations, and wait for more information/data on vaccines roll-out, and a structured route of the lockdown.
Meanwhile the GOSL gamble with “reopen our economy” mainly for tourism, more coronavirus outbreak is possible with the new variants, until vaccinations are completed. Thus the island will continue to be under threat.
To keep Saint Lucia one step ahead of the new variants and vaccinations, the SLP, affirmed that: “It remains committed to the successful roll-out of the vaccination process and will continue to encourage and educate Saint Lucians about the importance of volunteering to receive the two doses,” advised the GOSL of the “need for more education on the vaccine using all media available both in English and Kwéyòl.”
In addition,“the success of the vaccine can only be achieved if 70 percent of the population receives the vaccines and therefore requires the buy-in of citizens,” the SLP said.