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St Lucia health authorities struggle to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases

By Caribbean News Global contributor

CASTRIES, St Lucia – Amid the festive seasons of Christmas and leading up to the New Year celebrations COVID-19 is raging through the island, with reports of a further 13 cases, Thursday, December 31, 2020. This brings the total number of cases diagnosed in-country to date to 353; a total of 11 recoveries, bringing the total number of active cases currently in-country to 64.

However, a member of Cabinet considers the reporting, science and date on COVID-19 in Saint Lucia as “JUNK” and prefer to concede that “we live in a free country” and “we don’t have to always agree.”

Between December 24 and December 27, 2020, a total of 314  COVID-19 tests were conducted by the Ezra Long Laboratory, from these the MOH received confirmation of  26 new cases of COVID-19.

On Tuesday, December 22, 2020, the ministry of health and wellness received confirmation of 16 new cases of COVID-19. This brings the total number of cases diagnosed in the country to date to 303. This follows Thursday, November 19, when the ministry of health (MOH) received confirmation of 20 new cases of COVID-19.

St Lucia break records with 26 cases of COVID-19, not surprising

“The ministry of health and wellness, through the reports from the contact tracing team, is noting the increased transmission of COVID-19. This can be associated with the increased movement and social activities during the first three weeks of December 2020,” the MOH said. As much as we anticipate increased transmission risk associated with the festive season, we continue to remind the public to adhere to the infection prevention recommendations at this time.

“Reports have been received of large parties and other social gatherings during the past Christmas week and similar plans for the upcoming New Year celebrations. While we wish everyone an enjoyable celebration as you usher in the new year, we advise that safety be the priority for you and family.”

Amid the MOH “advise that safety be the priority for you and family” no guidance was provided for pandemic tourism that Saint Lucia continues to import COVID-19 from other parts of the world COVID-19 and the variant SARS-CoV-2 strain will inevitably increase.

Over in Barbados, minister of tourism and international transport Senator Lisa Cummins makes it clear that ‘industry players could no longer be preoccupied with maximising arrivals, raising foreign exchange and pursuing business opportunities.’

“The prime minister in her wisdom financed and supported the Barbados Economic Sustainability and Transformation (BEST) programme so that [government] could support the tourism industry for the entire 24 months, and the reason for that was that we did not expect tourism arrivals to rebound to 2019 or 2018 levels this year,” Cummins added.

Even so, Pablo Torres, the president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), predicted the Caribbean will see a return of tourism to the region, “faster than many parts of the world,” thanks to the protocols and partnerships implemented throughout the region to help lessen the effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

World Health Director (WHO) director-general’s new year message read in part:Going into 2021, we have a simple, yet profound, choice to make: Do we ignore the lessons of 2020 and allow insular, partisan approaches, conspiracy theories and attacks on science to prevail, resulting in unnecessary suffering to people’s health and society at large?

“Or do we walk the last miles of this crisis together, helping each other along the way, from sharing vaccines fairly, to offering accurate advice, compassion and care to all who need, as one global family. The choice is easy.”

WHO stands with you: We are family and we are in this together

Pan American Health Organization director Carissa F. Etienne called it: “The most extraordinary public health event of our lifetimes,” and said the work to control the pandemic in 2021 “won’t be easy or quick.”

In a year-end message, Etienne said, “As we approach the end of 2020, I would like to recognize your dedication in meeting the unparalleled challenges of this year. My thanks to all staff, national governments, international organizations, and citizens who have helped confront COVID-19 while continuing to advance the health and well-being of people in the Region of the Americas.”

The COVID-19 pandemic swept through every country in the Americas in 2020, infecting more than 35 million people and causing some 850,000 deaths. Globally, COVID-19 affected 216 countries and territories, causing more than 80 million cases and 1.7 million deaths worldwide. The Americas was the most affected continent in a context of large inequities.

“While we hope 2021 will usher a new chapter in our fight against this virus, protecting the millions of people in our region with COVID-19 vaccines will be a huge undertaking,” Etienne said in a recent briefing. “So, we must be patient and remain realistic that COVID-19 will be among us for some time – so our work to control it cannot and must not stop.” Vulnerable people in the Americas “are already receiving COVID-19 vaccines, with millions more doses expected early next year. This timeline is astonishing and a testament to the unprecedented collaboration among scientists, researchers and experts alike.”

OECS – CARICOM Member States must gear-up: #Vaccines4All




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