St Lucian’s frustrated with ‘new and inadequate’ COVID-19 protocols

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By Caribbean News Global contributor

CASTRIES, St Lucia, (CNG Health) – Recent COVID-19 surge, pandemic tourism, ten deaths and massive community spread, continues to underline that policymakers are failing to control coronavirus in Saint Lucia. This is coupled with the ‘new and inadequate’ COVID-19 protocols unrelated to science, public health and common sense – a ten-day policy that came into effect Friday, January 22, at 06:00 PM (with exceptions) available here, aggravates the people of Saint Lucia.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on January 19, updated COVID-19 in Saint Lucia to Level 4: Very high level of COVID-19, adding, “travelers should avoid all travel to Saint Lucia.”

Meanwhile, Saint Lucia Tourism Authority fittingly titled, “It’s Time for St Lucia“, offers are available through March 20, 2021, the last day of winter.

“It’s Time for Saint Lucia – for a vacation, to celebrate a milestone, enjoy a much-needed wellness retreat, work remotely, or just for an escape to warm weather. … Safety is a priority and Saint Lucia has Covid protocols in place, so you can travel with confidence.”

On Friday, January 22, the ministry of health and wellness confirmed 15 new cases of COVID-19. This brings the total number of active cases in the country to 342 active cases and 770 diagnosed cases in the country to date.

The latest [in] decision by the government concerning the COVID-19 crisis now gripping Saint Lucia, says the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) has “once again highlighted the government’s incompetent handling of this pandemic, and have left the people of this country, bewildered, disappointed, disgruntled and angry.”

In a statement released Friday, the SLP explained that these protocols are too little too late as they do not directly address the core of the COVID-19 threat facing Saint Lucia:

“Firstly, there was no statement on expanding the capacity to test nationally for COVID 19. It is now evident that people are being infected and are not bothering to get tested unless their symptoms get serious. We need a mass testing programme.

Secondly, there was no rethinking of the open border policy which clearly has failed us. We reiterate that with the borders remaining open that the requirement for a second test for all visitors must be implemented.

“Thirdly, we need a clear statement on the capacity to isolate positive cases to avoid persons breaching stay at home requests. The protocols are not consistent in the actions they seek to curtail.”

Unjustified restrictions

The SLP queried: “Why are schools being kept closed for only ten days when it is patently clear that this spike in COVID-19 cases will still be raging after the next ten days?

  • There is no justification for construction operations to be allowed after 09:00 pm except that the government wants to relentlessly pursue its election works programme;
  • Restrictions on special religious activities are not consistent and should be on the size of the space being used;
  • The restriction on the sale of alcohol is discriminatory to locals, meanwhile, visitors have access to alcohol and are free to socialise, whilst locals are denied even private purchases;
  • How can the total countrywide suspension of liquor licenses reduce the spread of COVID 19? Little wonder that these protocols have angered the people.”

Saint Lucians are also frustrated at the prime minister for remarks blaming them for the current rise in COVID-19 cases and conveniently absolving government from the dreadful health situation in which we are in,” the SLP said. “Relaxed COVID-19 protocols prior to the Christmas and the New Year seasons signalling to the people that they too could relax and drop their guard. Now that things have become dire you are washing your hands like Pontius Pilate,” the SLP reckoned.

Inept COVID-19 response

Consistently, the government is failing to carry out adequate testing for COVID-19 among citizens. The government is refusing to test tourists for COVID-19 after they have arrived in Saint Lucia, lead by a prime minister who refuses to admit that the major source of COVID-19 in Saint Lucia is from international arrivals, and not from the ‘back door’ – as he is infamous for disclosing, March 16, 2020, a ‘doggy style’ apparent approach to get things under control.

On  January 11, 2021, despite the clear evidence of a growing spike in COVID-19 and against the advice of the Teachers Union and the opposition, government re-opened schools. Now that the virus has penetrated the school system, government office, Cabinet, law offices, medical staff, hotels, furniture stores, hardware stores, etc, the prime minister is blaming the people.

“We should be outraged as a public the behaviour we have had so irresponsible, during the Christmas and New Year, that it has affected kids going back to school,” said the silver tongue of prime minister Allen Chastanet. Why aren’t we getting mad at ourselves?” He asked. “We have a failing grade at this point,” prime minister Chastanet confirmed.

Given the prime minister’s admission and his continuous ability to disgrace, insult the country and its people, at their most critical hour; the SLP has advised that the country “needs a COVID-19 targeted policy response supported by a robust protocol regime, in addition to a change of government to save lives and livelihoods.”

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