Letters & Opinion

Stringent Measures Needed to Get Saint Lucians to Obey COVID-19 Protocols

Reducing the 24-hour curfew to 10 hours has shown clearly that the war against the dreaded novel coronavirus is one fought only by the government. The rest of the country is not in this war as is evident, every day in the queues that line essential services.

Not only are there not much regard for calls to stay six feet away from each other, the same type of disregard is paid to the call to wear, at all times when in public, face masks. Too many Saint Lucians were seen over the past two days with what pass as a face masks hanging carelessly under their chins.

The coronavirus is probably the most serious issue in Saint Luca today however the stance taken to fight it is taken just by a few. The phase “we all in” certainly does not apply to all Saint Lucians. This undeniably one-sided fight against the virus will put the whole country in more problems later in the year than currently anticipated.

More draconian measures should be heaped on the shoulders of all Saint Lucians: small and big, young and old and the haves and the have-nots, as everyone it seems are in blatant disregard of the simple call to keep a face mask on and stay six feet or more from each other.

Clearly the almost nightly and daily pronouncements by the Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sharon Belmar – George and Prime Minister Allen Chastanet are either not getting to the masses or if they do, the masses do not care a damn about what these two are saying.

Either way we are doomed.

Then what should we do? Should the pronouncements be stopped? Or should we go back to the days where we have to have a whip on our backs to make us adhere to the outlined protocols for fighting this virus?

Compounding the dilemma we face could very well be that Saint Lucians no longer trust politicians and so disregard whatever it is they say. They preach on the importance of wearing a face mask yet address the nation without wearing one. Not even the distance between them when facing the nation is not enough should one of them sneeze.

The coronavirus found Saint Lucia with its pants around its’ ankles where healthcare is concerned forcing the government to make decisions they would have preferred to make in the future, one example is moving into the Owen King European Union Hospital (OKEUH).

Faced with a coronavirus situation that may turn ugly on a dime, Prime Minister Chastanet had to bite the bullet and government to eat their words and do something they envisioned taking place end of this year, which was to transition from the 100 plus year-old Victoria Hospital to the OKEUH end of last month, a move that robbed them of their trumpet blow moment and political chest thumping.

But even while Chastanet and his team were talking about the OKEUH unpreparedness to open late last year, nurses at Victoria Hospital were saying they were ready to move, a fact they repeated to reporters last month when they were interviewed on the first day of the transition.

So trained were the nurses to make the transition that the transition took place without a hitch. This situation begs the question and a fair question too: can the government be trusted with the country’s health care problems?

The government has been big on talking about health care in the country. Even while in opposition Chastanet had made the country’s health care a political issue. Prior to the general elections in 2016 he stated in his party’s Manifesto that “Saint Lucia’s present health care system is characterized by poor management of the public sector services and a lack of collaboration and synergy with public sector services, causing waste, duplication and inequity in access to health services.”

Government, two months from now, will be entering its fifth year, has anything changed for the better today compared to the time the above words were written?

I concede that the coronavirus could further stricken our health services if we, collectively, do not strive to adhere to the protocols outlined to fight it.

I call on government to think outside the box and create more stringent measures that would force Saint Lucians to maintain six feet from each other when on a queue and to wear a face mask at all times. That’s the only way to avoid a total breakdown of our health services, which could happen if the coronavirus goes unchecked in the land.


Micah George is an established name in the journalism landscape in St. Lucia. He started his journalism tutelage under the critical eye of the Star Newspaper Publisher and well known journalist, Rick Wayne, as a freelancer. A few months later he moved to the Voice Newspaper under the guidance of the paper’s recognized editor, Guy Ellis in 1988.

Since then he has remained with the Voice Newspaper, progressing from a cub reporter covering court cases and the police to a senior journalist with a focus on parliamentary issues, government and politics. Read full bio...

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