AS of March 05, 2020, the WHO reported a total of 95, 333 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally with 3, 282 deaths. There are now 14, 768 confirmed cases in 85 countries outside China with 267 deaths.
There has been confirmation of COVID-19 cases in several countries of the Caribbean including the Dominican Republic (1), Saint Martin (2), Saint Barthelemy (1) and most recently, Martinique (2).
With the global increase in transmission and recent upgrade of the Caribbean’s risk assessment by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) from low to moderate to high, the Department of Health and Wellness continues to strengthen preparation for in-country transmission and management as well as building diagnostic capacity for testing for COVID-19.
Currently, all testing for COVID-19 is done at CARPHA which is the regional reference laboratory for the Caribbean. Specimens from suspected cases are transported to the Ezra Long laboratory at the Victoria Hospital for onward transport to CARPHA.
Being cognizant of the international spread of COVID-19 and with the endorsement of the Honorable Prime Minister Allen Chastanet the Department of Health and Wellness has sourced equipment to facilitate COVID-19 testing on island. This equipment has already been shipped and is expected to enhance the management of cases through timely diagnosis.
The ports of entry (both air and sea) will be receiving additional public health staff to enforce the relevant regulations and protocols and to ensure the health of the Saint Lucian public.
In the interim, the public is asked to continue practicing the standard recommendations to prevent the spread of infection. These include:
– regular hand washing with soap and water or alcohol based hand sanitizer where soap and water is not available.
– cover mouth and nose with disposable tissues or clothing when coughing and sneezing.
– avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
– seek medical attention and share your travel history with your health care provider if you have symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness either during or after travel.
As the Department of Health and Wellness note that COVID-19 is closer to our borders, we encourage Saint Lucians to avoid panic but rather to focus on preparation. We have been providing guidance on the importance of infection prevention and control which includes hand washing, cough etiquette and the management of respiratory illnesses.