St Lucia: MOH cautions ‘open socialization not approved’

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Mary Isaac, Minister for Health and Wellness (L) and Chief Medical Officer, Dr Sharon Belmar George

By Caribbean News Global contributor

CASTRIES, St Lucia – The Ministry of Health (MOH) has cautioned the public that “open socialization not approved at this time as we are still at high risk,” noted that “we continue to receive numerous reports of widespread socialization across the island,” emphasised that “we are still at high risk at this point in time.”

However, it should be noted that the open level of socialization is spearheaded by the government of Saint Lucia and the pending general elections.

Every day and every week-end pictures and videos illustrate open gatherings and campaign activities by members of parliament, in particular, Cabinet ministers interacting with various communities and political hacks distributing political gifts.

It is not immediately clear how the MOH will attend to this abnormally, in the context of the State of Emergency and COVID-19 restrictions.

In a statement Thursday, March 25, the MOH said it, “is encouraged with the progress noted thus far in managing the third wave and with the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine, is hopeful for quality of life improvements in relation to COVID-19 in the near future”, further advised that, “the public health team is working to reduce to less than 50 active cases of COVID-19 to enable safe opening up of activities. We ask the public to work with us and continue to be patient. The premature social activity will lead to an upsurge of cases given the exponential transmission typical of this virus.”

In the paradox of ‘have taken the position’ Vs a ‘policy position’ declares St Lucian MOH officials, Caribbean News Global (CNG) examined the MOH abstract thinking of “have taken the position” versus a policy – based on facts, science, data and a plan to reopen the economy.

The MOH has also acknowledged that “we [MOH] understand and acknowledge the level of frustration that the public has had to endure, by the many protocols and lockdowns in the past year. These measures have been implemented in an effort to reduce the impact of the virus on our vulnerable population. As we reduce the cases and the risk we have been reducing the strict measures in a controlled manner.”

The public was reminded that “although we [MOH] note the flattening of this third wave we still have over 100 active cases. We would like to alert the public, that mass crowd activities and open socialization is not recommended nor approved at this time in our management of the pandemic.”

As of March 25, the MOH reported 58 COVID-19 related deaths. A total of 108 active cases and a total of 4,172 cases diagnosed.

Meanwhile, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) director Carissa F. Etienne applauded the arrival of over 2.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines procured through COVAX but warned that the virus is surging dangerously in many countries in the region.

“Vaccines are coming but they are still several months away for most people in our region,” she said, urging people to continue to respect public health measures – masks, hand washing, and social distancing – especially during upcoming holidays. “People cannot let down their guard by engaging in close contact with others.”

“Although scale-up has begun, we know it’s not enough,” she continued. “We do not yet have the vaccines we need to protect everyone. It’s what happens when the whole world must rely on too few manufacturers. We must also find ways to share vaccines more equitably among countries.”

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