St Lucia opposition leader calls for ‘serious and respectful engagement’ to contain COVID-19 upsurge

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Leader of the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP), Philip J Pierre

By Caribbean News Global contributor

CASTRIES, St Lucia – On Thursday, October 29, the ministry for health and wellness confirmed 76 cases of COVID-19 on the island. In recent weeks, the government of Saint Lucia and medical officials have been at crosshairs to contain the virus.

Matters of medical truth and facts are unconvincing, making it difficult for the presumptive community spread of COVID-19 be isolated, contained and to implement a strategy, albeit capacity issues and medical supplies compounded by the prime minister and minister for finance that ‘the county is broke’, and ‘we have no more money.

Taiwan can help, and Taiwan is helping. The Republic of China (Taiwan) made another timely donation to the Owen King European (OKEU) hospital. His Excellency Peter Chen, ambassador of Taiwan to Saint Lucia, recently presented 1,000 face masks to the institution.

“I think by now everyone knows that the virus knows no borders, so we have to keep on helping each other. My embassy has close cooperation with the OKEU hospital. Just earlier this month I came here to deliver ventilators and test kits. We would like to continue this relationship,” he added. “I would like to take this opportunity to encourage others to keep wearing masks because when we wear masks, we protect others, and when others wear masks, they protect us.”

To reinforce leadership, facts, truth, and the need for a national strategy for COVID-19, opposition leader Philip Pierre directed the government of Saint Lucia as follows:

“The Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) wishes to register its deep concern over the recent spike in coronavirus cases in the country and calls upon the government of Saint Lucia to rethink its approach to handling the crisis.

These recent cases have aroused the anxiety and fear of Saint Lucians. The fact that cases seem to exist in disparate communities is even more worrying. There is need for increased public confidence in the information being distributed from official sources to achieve a coherent and co-ordinated response from the government.

In recent times, there has been an intense debate on talk shows and social media about fake news and misinformation relating to COVID-19 cases. I do not support and categorically condemn the spreading of fake news and misinformation on a critical matter like COVID-19. Saint Lucians must always be mindful of sharing information which cannot be verified.

However, it is equally important for the Cabinet of ministers and other members of the administration and party surrogates not to politicize the handling of the crisis and the work of public officials. In a politically charged environment, this can only aggravate suspicion and distrust.

I am of the firm view that only a coordinated national approach, utilising all political parties and civil society groups, can ensure success in the fight against COVID-19. I, therefore, call upon the prime minister to have a serious and respectful engagement with the opposition and civil society to reignite the confidence and trust of the Saint Lucia public. From the onset of the pandemic in Saint Lucia, The Saint Lucia Labour Party has always been willing and has always expressed its willingness to assist the national effort to combat this virus.

The situation is serious and despite your suffering and anxiety, I urge you to follow the health protocols for COVID-19, outlined by the chief medical officer (CMO) and the medical fraternity.

“Wear your masks in public, maintain physical distancing, wash and sanitize hands regularly, avoid touching nose and mouth unnecessarily and protect your family, especially the elderly, sick and differently-abled among us.”

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