WHAT is going on in Saint Lucia in relation to the novel coronavirus popularly called COVID-19?
It appears that the citizens and the authorities are not on the same page where COVID-19 is concerned despite the several reassurances given by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sharon Belmar-George and Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, during their several appearances on national television, that they are providing information about the virus as soon as the information is verified.
The belief of too many Saint Lucians, as expressed on social media, that the information coming from both the CMO and Prime Minister are not authentic enough for them leaves one dumbfounded, to say the least.
This is not to say that the CMO or the Prime Minister is above being questioned, but for persons to challenge the information presented without themselves providing credible evidence of any flaw/s in the information put out by the authorities is taking the situation a bit too far, one which if they discard the information provided could prove costly to them.
Social media is filled with all kinds of information about the COVID-19 cases in the country today, but how correct are they, if those persons who put out such information cannot verify the accuracy of the information put out by them?
Government, in particular the office of the CMO, has turned out to be the more accurate medium for coronavirus information in the country, that is not to say persons in the various communities may not know a bit more about how and where some persons were affected. The Ministry of Health would be happy to have such information as it would help them strengthen their containment plans for the virus.
Saint Lucia at last count registered 48 cases of the virus with such cases being found in Dennery, Castries, Babonneau, Gros islet, Micoud and the list goes on. We have now reached a stage where we cannot treat the virus with kid gloves anymore. We are smack dab in the pandemic and it behoves each of us to do our part to save each other.
Saint Lucians of all ages have been infected, from a school child to someone in his/her sixties. COVID-19 is no respecter of persons and can visit the mighty and the weak, the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated.
Government should continue doing what it has so far been doing to contain a community spread of the virus, such as providing timely bulletins about the virus and its progress in the community, along with the usual encouragement to Saint Lucians to obey the protocols as outlined not just by the CMO but by the World Health Organisation and the Pan-American Health Organisation.
As has been repeated the world over, proper management of the pandemic requires both the government and the public working together. While it could be argued that government should play the lead role in the management of this crisis, including its economic side, public support should never be ignored. Neither too should the role of the opposition.
Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition is also needed in this fight. They should be willing to provide ideas as well to curb the spread of the virus, after all, they too have people looking up to them for leadership and guidance.
All in all, less talk and more action on the various dimensions of the crisis confronting the nation and in particular reinforcing the lesson learnt in other countries should redound to the benefit of us all. Wearing masks in public, maintaining social distancing and frequently washing our hands are protocols that save lives, even ours.