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More COVID-19 Cases Anticipated

The Ministry of Health and Wellness says it anticipates new COVID-19 cases as the country opens up to the outside world by phases.

The announcement came last week via a release by the Ministry of Health which went on to state that “if we all comply by the guidelines and maintain them, the possibility for transmission is minimized.”

Work is also going full speed ahead at the respiratory hospital, formerly the old Victoria Hospital, to get it ready for visitor arrivals scheduled for next month and a possible surge in COVID-19 cases in the country when commercial flights return.

The respiratory hospital, which is where COVID-19 patients will be hospitalized, is expected to be completed at the end of this month with 85 beds to be made available.

Image of Health Minister Mary Isaac says the Department of Health and Wellness has taken measures to restrict the possible entry of the Coronavirus into Saint Lucia.
Health Minister Mary Isaac

“I am hoping that we will be able to use this facility to contain the virus, to manage the virus and to treat the virus which is what we have been doing. But we have not been as focused as we would like to be in terms of having the proper facility. So, this facility is going to give us an opportunity to have a better place to bring those potential cases and for us to take care of these cases in a very nice facility,” Health Minister Mary Isaac said, following a tour of the facility this week.

Meanwhile the Health Ministry’s testing strategy over the last few weeks has focused on frontline workers and the repatriated cruise ship nationals as well as patients who accessed care at the respiratory clinics.

“Over 67 physicians and nurses were tested and over 152 fire service officers and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs). We continue to note negative test results for the frontline workers and persons who access the respiratory clinics. We have carried out a total of 1, 204 tests to date,” stated the Ministry.

“The Ministry of Health and Wellness alerts the public that as we open up the sectors, the risk of transmission increases. We can reduce this risk by ensuring the public health and social measures are maintained,” declared the Ministry.

As of last week, 18 of the 19 cases have recovered. The last case was a repatriated cruise national and was recorded on June 4, 2020.

But the expectation of more coronavirus cases is not the only warning the Ministry of Health and Wellness is sending out.

“Although our focus has been on COVID-19, we must prepare for the hurricane season as it commenced on June 1, 2020. This period of increased rainfall also signifies increases in vector borne diseases such as Dengue Fever and Leptospirosis. We advise the public to pay special attention of their immediate surroundings to ensure it is clean and not providing breeding grounds for mosquitos and rats.”

The Vector Awareness Plan by the Ministry of Health and Wellness will be launched later this month.

Meanwhile the Community Health Nursing Service informs the public that all clinics except doctor’s clinics at the various community wellness centres will be conducted only by scheduled appointments.

“In order to adhere to the physical distancing measures, persons are asked to call or visit their respective wellness centre to make an appointment. Doctor’s clinics at the various wellness centres will be available on the scheduled day from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.,” explained another announcement by the Ministry.

In addition, the Eye clinic will resume at the Owen King EU Hospital on June 12, 2020 by appointments only. Clients are asked to wait for a telephone call that will indicate when they should visit for their eye check. Persons are asked not to visit the hospital unless they have an appointment,” the announcement added.

All persons coming to conduct business at the various community wellness centres must wear a mask and adhere to the rules of physical distancing.

Executive Director of the OKEU Hospital and the respiratory hospital, Nancy Francis spoke of the ongoing works at the respiratory hospital during last week’s tour of the facility explaining how the ongoing construction works do not interfere with patients coming to the facility to receive care.

“We have to ensure that the logistics are carefully coordinated between our project team, the contractor and the World Bank team. So, we have on ground our hospital engineer who is working very closely with Skelly Construction as well as the oversight committee from the World Bank. Regularly, our project engineer will be in contact with Skelly Construction to look at the logistics for the day. From a management perspective, every day we have a manager on the ground at the respiratory hospital to ensure that things are coordinated in the right way and we are able to respond to any emergency that may arise,” Francis said.

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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