By Caribbean News Global contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia – The ministry of health, wellness and elderly affairs, last Friday announced that it “received confirmation from the Caribbean Public Health Agency of 12 cases of COVID-19 sub-variant XBB1.5 in Saint Lucia.”
The ministry of health further advised that “the cases are distributed in most districts in Saint Lucia, although the northern and central regions of the country are most affected.”
A review of the said locations – districts – could not be found. The island has no districts. It is constituted of towns, villages and the city of Castries.
And according to the ministry of health, the symptoms of this new variant has become less severe due to prior infection and immunization. The statement did not provide Saint Lucia’s high infection rate and low immunization statistics. Besides, the ministry of health advised that:
“Persons with this COVID-19 sub-variant are also at risk for Long COVID which causes a wide range of health problems that can last for weeks or months or longer.
“We estimate that this variant is already widely distributed across the country at this point. Seven of the cases received are male and 5 are female, ages range from 5-74 years with one hospitalized case. At present we have sequenced about 13 sub-variants of omicron circulating in country.”
The nonchalant language and communication to the confirmation of COVID-19 Sub Variant XBB1.5 in Saint Lucia is a testament to an environment where cognitive warfare and political correctness are of utmost importance.
Public health and pandemic concerns are matters of national safety that tread a fine line between shouldering responsibility, effective communication with the public and fundamental reform.
But what does it matter when bureaucrats and policymakers have said – we must now live with COVID! And further, take the path of less resistance to non-scientific public health policy, trying to please everyone.
The ministry of health, which requires an overhaul, seeks to demonstrate in its statement that, “this sub-variant of Omicron has been circulating in China, the United States, United Kingdom and also other countries in the region,” however, the context is lacking, if coupled with public relations and crisis management and how it addresses the increase in cases above projected figures.
Informing the public, the ministry of health said: “Based on its genetic characteristics and growth rate estimates, XBB.1.5 is likely to contribute to increases in case incidents. There is also evidence for increased risk of transmission and it seems more resistant than earlier strains to antibodies, re-infection and vaccines. Symptoms range from typical cold symptoms such as cough to shortness of breath to cases that require medical attention. Other symptoms include fever, chills, fatigue, muscle or body aches, sore throat, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms typically last 5-7 days,” the ministry of health added.
“Vaccination and staying up to date on COVID-19 boosters remains an effective form of protection from serious illness, hospitalization and death,” the statement from the ministry noted. “ In addition to COVID-19, there are other respiratory viruses in circulation which may possess similar clinical presentation to COVID-19. In several countries, there has been a steep increase in cases of influenza and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).”
Covid-19 has set back progress and revealed susceptibility in health systems. Inequities were highlighted by the pandemic while maintaining the continuity of essential health services, underscores government and/or investment in healthcare and systems.
The challenge to the transformation of Saint Lucia’s health systems remains a daunting task made more difficult by political and cognitive warfare.
“Be careful, the result will be even worse than many expected,” is the insinuation on St Jude Hospital Reconstruction Project. “Stop playing with people lives, while politicians see themselves as victims, in the caring exploits of dubious proxies.”
“Many people believe that only large hospitals should be built and that they alone can solve their health problems, but that belief is false,” said Ernesto Bascolo, PAHO regional advisor on health governance, policy and planning. “However, we must invest more in health services based on a strong first level of care, with the capacity to resolve problems and which coordinates and works in a network with centers and hospitals of greater complexity.”