The Ministry of Health informed the country that the new UK variant of the COVID 19 virus is present in Saint Lucia with the confirmation that five persons diagnosed in mid – December had been infected with the new strain. Two of these are UK nationals and the others Saint Lucian citizens. On December 21st the SLP called for immediate travel restrictions for arrivals from the UK because of the development of the new variant. At the time, more than 40 countries had imposed similar travel restrictions as a result of that development.
Our hospitals and healthcare systems are in crisis. We are hearing from the nurses and doctors that the surge of COVID-19 patients along with the normal operations are placing a strain on our already fragile health system and it is breaking.
This is a national crisis. Our Government has failed to prioritise our hospitals and health infrastructure. St. Jude’s Hospital remains incomplete along with other health centres. And, now, our health system is buckling under the weight of all the new COVID-19 patients.
Earlier this month, the UWP Government reopened the schools even though cases were spiking. That’s a failure. The UWP Government cancelled the laptop programme. If we had that, we would have been in a better position to do e-learning. That’s a failure. Where are the additional PPE, respirators and oxygen? Where is the second test for visitors upon arrival? What is the plan for the roll-out of the vaccine?
Saint Lucians are worried about their lives. They are worried about their loved ones. Saint Lucians continue to observe the COVID-19 protocols and they deserve better. The SLP is calling once again for the immediate closure of the border with the UK and the implementation of second tests for visitors along with the full quarantine period of 14 days. Schools should remain closed for the rest of the term.
Whilst we are aware that the Government did not cause the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe that they continue to mismanage its handling. The Government failed to priorities healthcare by not appropriately using the money provided for COVID-19 relief and consistently ignores the appeals by the Opposition, civic groups and other health professionals for a change in its approach to the crisis.
This national crisis demands no less than the firing of this Government from office.