The tale of two St Lucia’s: COVID-19 lives and livelihoods

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Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Allen Chastanet (R) and Leader of the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP), Philip J. Pierre

By Caribbean News Global contributor

CASTRIES, St Lucia (CNG Health) – Prime minister Allen Chastanet’s livelihoods over lives mindset, driving bad policy decisions, continues to fail and is ostensibly responsible for the continued rising numbers, as expressed in national independence: reflecting on uncomfortable truths, by Dr Alphonsus St Rose, Independent Candidate for Choiseul/Saltibus. “Our government is complicit in this potentially dangerous and irresponsible approach to protecting lives and livelihoods by misrepresenting the context in which we need to coexist with COVID-19

In the tale of two Saint Lucia’s, citizens are being asked to coexist with coronavirus that is likely to kill most. And admittedly said health minister Mary Isaac: “They dropped the ball somewhere.” And unfailing with the government mantra to blame the people for everything that has gone wrong, indicated: “Anybody who has had it dropped the ball. They either went to visit a family member, a friend, they hugged a person they loved that had it and they got it. If I have it tomorrow, it’s because I dropped my guard.

Moreover, irrespective of what prime minister Allen Chastanet says, numbers don’t lie in contrast to an administration that is manipulative with the truth, lacks credibility and misrepresents Saint Lucians at home and abroad, as COVID-19 carnage stuns Saint Lucia’s 42nd independence celebrations.

The numbers as reported reads:

  • February 19, 2021 – 240 new cases of COVID-19, and 3 COVID-19 related deaths;
  • February 20, 2021 – 218 new cases of COVID-19, and 3 COVID-19 related deaths;
  • February 21, 2021 – 57 new cases and one COVID-19 related death; and 32 COVID-19 related deaths;
  • February 22, 2021 – 7 new cases of COVID-19;  Total number of active cases in the country to date is 231
  • Total number of deaths in the country to date is 34;
  • New cases bring the total number of cases diagnosed in the country to date to 3149.

“Our country has struck a balance, thanks in great part, to the thousands of frontline workers,” Chastanet noted recently. And perhaps, more fractured in this thinking and the real peril facing the desperation and foolishness that run counter to the calls for unity, has everything to do with the so-called Saint Lucia National Awards.

  • The Saint Lucia Medel of Honour (Gold) Dr Sharon Belmar- George: For eminent service rendered in the field of public health and health care.

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  • The Public Service Long Service Award: St Lucia Public Service: Mary Isabella Isaac.

It is ureal the infatuation of Saint Lucia’s claim as the best islands in the region to manage COVID-19, even popularizing the hashtag #bestCMOever and #IstandwiththeCMO – went fishing for US, UK and Canadian visitors, have cost the island more pain and suffering than economic prosperity and happiness.

Meanwhile, the leader of the opposition and the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) debating the Public Finance Management Act – resolution of parliament to borrow for capital or current expenditure – COVID-19 response, recovery and resilience development policy programme; highlighter the plight of patients and issues surrounding medical gas (oxygen) at the respiratory hospital (Victoria Hospital).

St Lucia parliament to borrow USD$ 37 million, extend the time to lay 2021/22 estimates

The issue stunned the government. An agitated prime minister was quick to respond, opening the door to testimony from patients, via phone messages. No sooner, the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOH) issued a self-confessed press release.

“The current medical gas system at the respiratory hospital, which existed before the move to the Owen King EU hospital, was not designed for such a radical increase. Consequently, the system is currently being re-engineered to a semi-automated system to allow for an immediate notification and response by the technical and clinical team. The semi-automated system will also be less labour intensive and time-consuming.”

Conferring with many patients voice notes and messages on social media, and broadcast on radio, about the ‘lack of medical gas (oxygen) and/or rationing’, the MOH declared:

“Notwithstanding the move to the semi-automated system, there has been a consistent and reliable supply of medical gas (oxygen) by the only local manufacturer, Windward Island Gases. The MOH thanks the supplier for their commitment in continuing to meet the demands of the hospital for medical gas (oxygen) and notes that the supplier has given their unequivocal commitment in this regard.”

Additionally, the MOH says it has also strengthened the internal processes at the respiratory hospital to ensure reliability, consistency and responsiveness:

  • Move to four daily medical gas (oxygen) checks from one;
  • Increase in the human resource to provide a 24-hour medical gas (oxygen) monitoring service;
  • Procurement of medical equipment (hi-flow machines, ventilators, oxygen concentrators and others);
  • Re-training of the current employees and ongoing training of new employees.

Returning to the reality of the tale of two Saint Lucia’s, the United Workers Party (UWP) that #shaftscitizens and #rewardfailures – in distinction to the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) #puttingpeoplefirst the MOH in the same press release reveals.

“Over the last three weeks, the respiratory hospital has recorded an exponential increase in the consumption of medical gas (oxygen). This is as a result of the number of patients and acuity of the patients admitted at the hospital. The medical gas (oxygen) demand moved from 50 cylinders daily to one 120 cylinders. Discerning perhaps, of the COVID-19 statistics, the MOH amplified: “Over the last six days, commencing Friday, February 19, 2021, the hospital consumed 856 cylinders of medical gas at EC$195.00 per cylinder.”

Skillfully, opposition leader Pierre’s retort in parliament, February 23, 2021, was spot on.

“Has the government considered the oxygen plant that lays idle, if not is decaying at the St Jude hospital rehabilitation project in Vieux-Fort?”

And consistent with the sitting of parliament over two days by a government that never ceases to amaze, their performance was the semblance of a political platform get-together. The parliamentary debate and the legislative session of the governing “honourable men and women” were “pathetic” and “miserable”.

Nevertheless, “that’s the government we have” while encouraging the people to “continue to practice the health protocols/guidelines that have been enacted as we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic” – bearing in mind that ‘Saint Lucia is in a ‘State of Emergency’ and a curfew designed to – restrict opposition campaign, ahead of general elections.’

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