THE Ministry of Health is warning against stigmatizing persons and communities infected with COVID-19 claiming that it had discern a high level of concern, even fear in the public domain.
The Ministry’s warning comes on the heels of rising cases of COVID-19 in the country, almost on a daily basis this week with recorded cases standing at 76 at press time.
“This has in some instances resulted in individuals who have been diagnosed with the virus being stigmatized. This stigma can be very discouraging and cause great stress to people who are infected with the virus as well as their circle of family, friends, colleagues and wider community in which they reside. If not addressed from now, the Ministry of Health anticipates that this stigma can become a barrier to individuals who require testing coming forward to do so. We ask everyone to be supportive of each other,” the Ministry urged Thursday.
Saint Lucia is now in phase five of its reopening plan however that plan could be scaled back if cases continue to rise at the rate it is rising.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Belmar-George noted that the trigger to move the plan back is registering 50 cases in two weeks, a threshold that could be reached and surpassed anytime soon given the rate of infection.
“If you looked at the plan that we had presented to the public for the phase re-opening we are now in phase five cycle one and within that phase there were a number of triggers which would allow us to revert,” the CMO said.
“So what we do in a similar way when we moved forward, we looked at what the most high risk services were and we also judged on the level of how essential that service is so what we would do is to go back into the third cycle of phase four,” she further explained.
According to Dr. George her team has already started looking for triggers. In terms of mass crowd gatherings, the numbers were moved from 500 to 50.
“So the scale back would be on the higher risk, less essential services, which include mass crowd activities, boat rides, parties which we’ve already reduced and the community activities within the various communities. We’ve also closed schools temporarily. The other activities which would follow would be the work from home as much as possible, limiting crowds and the number 50 can go to a lot less,” she said.
Dr. George explained that some high risk activities which would facilitate the quicker transmission of the virus, example the cinemas, the bars, would be scaled down first.
Meanwhile as part of efforts to investigate and undertake contact tracing in relation to the recently diagnosed cases of COVID-19, the Ministry of Health stated it would be undertaking necessary interventions in communities, including assessments and health education.
Yesterday residents of Laborie were invited to an outreach activity at the Laborie Wellness Centre. Today there will be assessment and testing for COVID-19 at the centre.. According to the Ministry the intervention will also focus on health education on infection and prevention control measures such as use of face masks and hand hygiene.