The reckless government of St Lucia double-down ahead of parliament, COVID-19 upsurge

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(L-R) Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, Minister for Health and Wellness Mary Issac, Minister for Tourism, Information and Broadcasting, Dominic Fedee

By Caribbean News Global Caribbean News Global fav The reckless government of St Lucia double-down ahead of parliament, COVID-19 upsurge

TORONTO, Canada – The government of Saint Lucia continues to gloat about increasing visitor arrivals with the addition of four international flights from the United States and Canada; albeit, careless to the upsurge of COVID-19 as reported Monday, November 9, 2020, the ministry of health (MOH) confirmation of 141 cases.

“These new cases now bring the number of active cases currently in the country to 109. As we note the increasing number of cases of COVID-19 in the country, we need to stick to the basic measures for infection prevention and control,” the MOH press release advised. “As testing for COVID-19 continues and cases are being diagnosed it is important to note that a wide range of ages and communities are being impacted across the island. This virus is new to our population and as such we all have reduced immunity to the virus making us as a nation highly susceptible to infection. This requires us doing all the necessary measures to minimize our exposure to the virus.”

Global caution

COVID-19 is ravaging the US (10 million-plus cases) undermining security, health and global economies. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that “he expected the rate of positive tests for the novel coronavirus to continue rising in the state into winter. Both the state and New York City have seen positive test rates creep above two percent again in recent days in what Cuomo called a “new phase” of the coronavirus’s spread,” reported Reuters.

Prime minister Justin Trudeau on Monday said he sees, “the light at the end of the tunnel” after seeing promising news – Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine over 90 percent effective – that may be substantially effective and ready for distribution in early 2021. He, however, urged Canadians to not let down their guards: “To be very clear, “if you catch COVID in the coming days and weeks, a vaccine won’t help you or your family.”

Reluctantly, the UK is in lock-down from November 5 until December 2, while the global projection for a vaccine may be ready for distribution in early 2021.

‘A crack den’ – quarantine facility

Meanwhile, Saint Lucia with much fewer resources and capabilities with a Cabinet of numbskulls pontificate its population to debt and death. Recently, another viral video from a COVID-19 patient outlined inhumane conditions at a quarantine facility on the island, in particular, Victoria Hospital.

I feel as though I am in a crack den,” the COVID-19 patient said to described his accommodation including ‘health hazards’ in the area he was assigned – water on the floor and ceiling – a pool of water on the floor at the entrance – ‘my beautiful counter’ to purify worthless conditions assigned to humans in the care of the State.

Health minister Mary Issac, in response, said: “That was one individual and we all know that there are renovations taking place at the hospital,” she itemised. “We have had to speed up the renovations because now we have the spike in COVID-19. Unfortunately, it’s not anybody’s fault that we have to deal with that issue,” Isaac confirmed.

Notwithstanding the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank financing to Saint Lucia, many are left wheeze on government stewardship of expenditure for the management of COVID-19. Residence and citizens are also mystified to the lack of a social safety net amid continued borrowing, inclusive of US$30 million from the Caribbean Development Bank, to support Saint Lucia’s COVID-19 Crisis Response and achieving fiscal stability; […] plus EC$202 million to finance the Hewanorra International Airport Redevelopment Project.

Domestic marginalisation

Recently the government of Saint Lucia restricted local fishermen from leaving port for seven days, from Monday, November 2 to Sunday, November 8, 2020, albeit, intervention by fisherfolk that curtained government action in exchange for conditions not worth the legal attributes beyond self-importance of a government of numbskulls. A disgrace to the people of Saint Lucia.

On Monday, November 9, the government continued to turn on themselves and disenfranchise the National Association of Driving Schools (NADS), who stage a demonstration Monday outside the office of prime minister Allen Chastanet.

“We are here today because we got a notice from the ministry of infrastructure suspending theory and practical examinations with immediate effect,” said Secretary of the National Association of Driving Schools (NADS), Kingson Jean. “We thought that was a sign of disrespect to us and we thought it was unfair to the students and the driving school instructors.”

“They make decisions on behalf of our sector and don’t inform us,” Jean added. “We are hoping today to meet with the prime minister and have some sort of consultation with the prime minister or the minister of transport concerning the way forward.”

In contrast to favourable conditions for the tourism sector and the practice of preferred economics, Jean explained: “We could have had protocols where we limit the number of persons for the practical exam – just the examiner and the student. We could have had a reduced number of persons in a room for the theory exam – right now they have 25. We could have reduced it to 10”.

External preference

Compared to the huge difference, a press release by The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA), said: “As part of the islands responsible reopening plan […] ” and “to ensure a seamless arrival experience […]” consider this:

“We are pleased to welcome Air Canada back to familiar shores and this would signify the opening up of the gateway to other carriers. We are also elated to again welcome United Airlines and the additional services from Jet Blue and American Airlines,” said tourism minister, Dominic Fedee. “While we navigate this pandemic, we know that at this juncture tourism is really what the world is looking to as an economic driver and for us here in Saint Lucia, we continue to manage visitor arrivals in a very responsible manner.”

And this, “The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA) in collaboration with Events Company of Saint Lucia Inc. (ECSL), guided by the ministry of health and wellness, will welcome the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC and ARC+) 2020 fleets to Saint Lucia in early December. Observing a very different rally this year, the fleet will set sail within the realms of COVID-19 secure protocols, geared at ensuring the health and wellbeing of staff, participants, and stakeholders at the forefront of the event.”

A commentor on social media wrote, in part: “Look it is clear, a certain section of workers or professionals are being targeted to make it look that the government is doing things to protect the country. How on Earth can you take away someone’s daily bread without giving them nothing in return, and in the same breath you going to allow the ARC2020 to arrive at our shores…”

Notwithstanding double talk and data from the MOH that has recorded 55 plus confirmed cases in two weeks (to constitute a lockdown) of the virus since October 27, 2020, health minister Isaac, thinking of the economy said:

“You have to look at our economic situation in Saint Lucia and that is where the government have to take a policy decision to determine what it is that we are going to do,” Isaac told reporters Monday. “We are monitoring the figures, we are watching and at some point, we consult with the private sector and other sectors of society and then we decide, in terms of the way forward. Hopefully, we won’t, given our economic situation right now.”

Caribbean News Global (CNG) previously reported that “the consideration of a lockdown by the government is a risky proposition for ‘fear of being rejected by the decision-makers from elsewhere and the island tourism boss’.

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