By Caribbean News Global contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia – March 2020, leader of the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) Philip J. Pierre at a town hall meeting explained that Saint Lucia is the worst prepared country in the region for the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) based on facts, the lack of leadership, transparency, use of medical facilities. Then and now – protocol is the most bastardized word on the island.
Opposition leader Pierre was also futuristic in his assessment said: “the government should take measures to prepare the country for the eventuality of coronavirus (COVID-19).”
Currently, Saint Lucia is said to have recorded a total of 31 confirmed cases of COVID-19, should the reports of the government of Saint Lucia stand scrutiny. Reportedly, 27 of the cases have recovered. There are currently four active cases in care at the respiratory hospital, medical officials say, the last three cases have been nationals without a history of travel.
More fundamental is the apparent blunders in case management of the COVID-19 argument of a bus driver that has amassed much doubt and ridicule of the authorities.
Meantime, the assumption is such that there is the likelihood of community spread of COVID-19, which prompts chief medical officer (CMO) Dr Sharon Belmar George to cautioned that Saint Lucia is at a critical stage of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Prime minister Allen Chastanet has also warned that “perhaps the liberties enjoyed are at stake” apparently eager to implement the draconian COVID-19 law.
Serious questions include patient-doctor confidentiality and the security of patient medical records, at a time the government of Saint Lucia is making electronic monitoring and acquisition of data mandatory, inclusive of visitors and nationals.
At the core of the COVID-19 case of the bus driver is data security, case management and access to information of patient medical records, and distribution on social media, albeit the government of Saint Lucia seems flippant.
Lately, prime minister Chastanet has realized that Saint Lucia was not prepared for COVID-19 pandemic – health, social and economic implications, said shamelessly and irresponsibly, “government is broke, we have no more money”.
The ridicule has gone global with an acceptable retort from the Unity Labour Party of St Vincent and the Grenadines in a Facebook post: “While our neighbours who sell passports are all broke, we handled the pandemic well.”
Besides, the inadequacy largely avoidable, if the prime minister would listen and learn valuable lessons about preparedness measures, disaster scenarios, emergency plans, and strategic outlays, opposition leader Pierre reiterated the following in a statement issued October 15:
“From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) has always made it very clear that it stood ready to cooperate with the government to secure and protect the people of Saint Lucia from the scourge of the virus. It was for this reason that we agreed, although with reservations, to the initial imposition of the State of Emergency which the government had applied in March.
In addition, we have always urged the people of Saint Lucia, whom we always put first, to observe the protocols that have been mandated by the chief medical officer in order to control the pandemic including the wearing of masks.
As the country is now facing what is seemingly a fresh outbreak of the virus, and a very concerning one as it appears to have the signs of in-country transmission, we are calling upon everyone to be careful and to take the necessary steps to protect themselves. While we understand that there is public dissatisfaction with the government, and at this time in particular for their handling of case number 29, and that the ruling party’s surrogates have not helped the situation with their unfounded aspersions on the Saint Lucia Labour Party for its recent successful protest march, we, however, do not wish to worsen the people’s credibility problem with the government.
We, therefore, urge all citizens to cooperate with the authorities and for all those requested to take the COVID-19 test, to do so and follow the directives of the CMO.
We have always made it our duty, from the beginning to impress upon the government, the necessity of dealing with economic and social implications of the coronavirus pandemic, in tandem with its health consequences.
Therefore, like all Saint Lucians, we are exceedingly alarmed that the prime minister announced last Sunday that the country is broke and he has no more money to finance badly needed social stabilization programmes. This is not just the result of the economic fallout of COVID-19 but is also due to the prime minister’s poor management of the country’s finances during the last four and a half years.
We have repeatedly sounded warnings about this, and we urge the prime minister to be transparent and inform the country on the real state of the economy. This dreadful economic situation requires full disclosure and transparency with the people of Saint Lucia.
“We appeal to all Saint Lucians to do everything necessary to protect themselves from COVID-19; to limit the spread of the virus in the country so that the economic and social situation does not worsen.”