St Lucia’s health system in crisis: Don’t panic  

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As of January 25, 2021, there are 921 COVID-19 cases and 436 active cases; Saint Lucia also recorded two COVID-related deaths bringing the total number of deaths to date to 13; the individuals are a 60-year-old male and a 63-year-old male both from the Castries. They were both enrolled in care when they passed away.

By Caribbean News Global contributor

CASTRIES St Lucia – On Sunday, January 24, 2021, the ministry of health and wellness (MOH) confirmed five cases of the SARS-Co-V-2 British variant diagnosed in Saint Lucia.

“Two of the cases are British nationals who were diagnosed on December 17 and December 23, 2020. The other three cases are Saint Lucian nationals from Dennery, Micoud and Babonneau. They were also diagnosed in December 2020. All five cases have since made a full recovery from the COVID-19 virus,” MOH said in a statement.

As of January 25, 2021, there are 921 COVID-19 cases and 436 active cases. Saint Lucia also recorded two COVID-related deaths bringing the total number of deaths to date to 13. The individuals are a 60-year-old male and a 63-year-old male both from the Castries. They were both enrolled in care when they passed away.

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.”

On Monday, January 25, 2021, “The Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) reiterated calls “for the immediate closure of the border with the UK and the implementation of second tests for visitors along with the full quarantine period of 14 days.”

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

Travel restrictions for arrivals from the UK

In a release, Monday, January 25, 2021, the SLP reminded the public that on December 21, 2020, the party “called for immediate travel restrictions for arrivals from the UK because of the development of the new variant. At the time, more than 40 countries had imposed similar travel restrictions as a result of that development.

“Our hospitals and healthcare systems are in crisis. We are hearing from the nurses and doctors that the surge of COVID-19 patients along with the normal operations are placing a strain on our already fragile health system and it is breaking.

“This is a national crisis. Our government has failed to prioritise our hospitals and health infrastructure. St Jude’s hospital remains incomplete along with other health centres. And, now, our health system is buckling under the weight of all the new COVID-19 patients.”

That’s a failure

Further to the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) recommendation 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,” on Monday, said, “this national crisis demands no less than the firing of this (United Workers Party (UWP) government from office,” itemizing the following:

  • The UWP government reopened the schools even though cases were spiking. That’s a failure. Schools should remain closed for the rest of the term.
  • The UWP government cancelled the laptop programme. If we had that, we would have been in a better position to do e-learning. That’s a failure.
  • Where are the additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) respirators and oxygen?
  • Where is the second test for visitors upon arrival?
  • What is the plan for the roll-out of the vaccine?

The SLP statement continued: “Whilst we are aware that the government did not cause the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe that they continue to mismanage its handling. Saint Lucians are worried about their lives. They are worried about their loved ones. Saint Lucians continue to observe the COVID-19 protocols and they deserve better.

“The government failed to priorities healthcare by not appropriately using the money provided for COVID-19 relief and consistently ignores the appeals by the opposition, civic groups and other health professionals for a change in its approach to the crisis.”

Dr Alphonsus St Rose was right all along

An article by Dr Alphonsus St Rose, published March 16, 2020: COVID-19 and St Lucia’s worsening healthcare crisis, he said: “The truth is, Saint Lucia is ill-prepared to adequately handle this COVID-19 epidemic, from real-time public information sharing and implementation to physical, human and financial resource perspective.

“This is a moment of extreme national stress, distrust, anxiety, fear, and uncertainty. We are dealing with life and death situations and so well thought out decisions must be made promptly with credible evidence-based data and great analytical thought. However, disturbingly, we are faced with a potential disaster because of a disregard for urgency.

“Now the COVID-19 is here upon us; we are ill-prepared, and now the best advice we can be given (by our leaders) – is don’t panic?”

November 20, 2020, in a follow-up article entitled: The second wave? Dr St Rose explained: “The trigger for this second (community spread) COVID-19 wave is multifactorial in its genesis. Clearly, containing and controlling COVID-19 is a moral and humanitarian imperative. This demands much needed honest and credible leadership from all our leaders. Any piecemeal, expedient and dilutional approach to handling this pandemic is a bad prescription.

“Consider the fact that some of our leaders, sworn to uphold and defend our laws and protocols are the very ones who are least exemplary in public. Ignoring the protocols and turning on the citizenry as non-compliant and irresponsible is unacceptable.

“And so, when we hear statements like “we cannot continue to choose lives over livelihoods” as “people can be healthy and still starve” from leaders or citizens, that is a troubling mindset to say the least. The majority of black and brown people of this country broadly speaking, have been in poverty and starving for forty-one years since independence.”

Further reading: Dr Alphonsus St Rose

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