Raise The BAR

OVER the years this newspaper has repeatedly called on Saint Lucians to raise their standards whenever it saw it fitting to do so. This column, in particular, has been leading the charge for continuous self- improvement in several areas.

Not only have we called on the populace to raise the bar but also on our political leaders in areas like healthcare, road construction, public transportation and, above all, courtesy to each other, to name but a few spheres where our leaders have frequently fallen short.

Today we are forced to once again call on our political leaders, and Saint Lucians on the whole, to raise the bar as it pertains to the debate that’s raging about the COVID-19 pandemic. The situation is too tragic, and could turn horrifying, if we all do not sing from the same hymnbook.

With 238 diagnosed cases in country at last count, the sole respiratory hospital already filled to capacity, two deaths and the authorities now having to think outside the box to keep their sanity as they come up with strategy after strategy to stay on top of the situation, the time certainly has arrived for constructive thought by all in the fight against the virus’ spread.

Hence, we call on persons pushing the ‘front door’ and ‘back door’ narratives to desist from so doing. It is no longer relevant. By ‘back door’ we mean persons claiming that the virus is spread by those who enter Saint Lucia illegally via sea, particularly from Martinique, and by ‘front door’ we mean persons claiming that the virus is spread by those who enter the country legally through the legal ports of entry, (principally tourists) infecting employees in the tourism sector who in turn spread the virus in their communities and homes. While there has been no hard evidence to substantiate either claim, they continue to flourish.

If we continually look back (to play the blame game) we will inevitably stumble on the rough road ahead. Instead, we should focus on the future and the most important feature of the future which is getting adequate amounts of coronavirus vaccine doses into the country as quickly as possible, now that it looks as if such vaccines will be rolled out for use in the very near future.

This ‘front door’ and ‘back door’ debate should cease forthwith as it is now irrelevant. Whichever door the virus entered through simply no longer matters. It is neither here nor there now. What is important is that the virus has entered and now it is our job to stop its march across our land and one sure way of doing that is through vaccination.

Aside from washing hands, staying six feet and more apart from each other and wearing a mask, we should now be focusing on channeling whatever resources we have in seeing how best we could get the vaccine here and, having gotten it here, how are we going to distribute it.

We understand that the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) this month launched a tender inviting all COVID-19 vaccine developers to submit a proposal for supply in 2021.

That tender aims to provide at least two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines and is to ensure equitable and accelerated access to quality assured vaccines for 186 economies.

We have been able to confirm that Saint Lucia, and other low income countries, signed an agreement with the COVAK facility led by the World Bank to receive doses of the vaccine when it becomes available.

This should be the talking point of the pandemic in this country. We applaud the move by the government, however we believe a statement on that should come from government giving more details about the agreement.

Christmas is coming, and that is, traditionally, a time of festive enjoyment when cares of the world are forgotten for a time. COVID, however, has no Christmas. The simple, albeit irksome, protocols of wearing a face mask, social distancing and frequent hand washing are our very best chance of emerging from the pandemic, perhaps bloodied, but unbowed.

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