Political Leader of the St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) Phillip Pierre has urged citizens to hold strong amidst the many challenges and upheavals brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic…
In an address to the nation, on Thursday, Pierre said the SLP is cognizant of the added hardships that citizens have to bear in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic—but rest assured that the party is devising a ‘Rescue Plan’ in an effort to help restore some stability to the country.
Pierre noted that while people are eager to return to normal lives prior to the coronavirus, it was not yet possible at this time. And to compound the situation, he said, thousands of persons are currently unemployed
He added that, “Many more struggling to pay their rent and utility bills. Many are at their wits ends regarding their debts and while some banks and credit unions continue to provide some form of debt relief this is not across the board.”
Pierre reflected on the many travails of the past year, which he said, “was rough in so many different ways.”
And in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic families have had to face more heartache “to bury loved ones, who died from dengue, suicides, motor vehicle accidents, COVID, or some gruesome crime, under distressful restrictive conditions.”
He commented that the crime spree has not abated, despite the many curfews and lockdowns brought about by COVID-19, resulting in 55 homicide cases for last year and “ with it little respite with four homicides for the month of January.”
However, the SLP’s political leader’s main grouse is what he perceived as the government’s health care inadequacies in handling the coronavirus.
He said that while issues such as the SLP’s plans for economic diversification, crime fighting initiatives, political reforms and other policy initiatives are important matters, nonetheless “the current public health crisis and its attendant economic consequences, created in the main by the mismanagement of the government’s COVID response, requires the Labour Party’s fullest attention.”
Citing that the country could well be on the brink of a “national crisis”, Pierre took umbrage with the government and health authorities for the sudden spike in COVID-19 cases that has increased over the past weeks.
As a result, he added, “In Saint Lucia we are now experiencing the full onslaught of a third wave of the virus. This community spread has already caused 1000 confirmed COVID cases with many more stuck in a testing backlog. Over 600 of these cases have come within the month of January. We have already recorded 13 COVID related deaths with eight of these deaths within the month of January alone.”
With reports of the new UK variant detected on island, he said, this poses an added strain on “Our health system, already in crisis prior to COVID-19 because of the government’s myopic approach to healthcare.”
Pierre declared: “In short, we are in a deep national health crisis, which has its origin in the Government’s poor handling of our health care system, which has been worsened by the outbreak of COVID- 19, which, sadly, remains poorly managed by the government.”
He took the government to task for its perceived ‘poor financial management’ of the crisis , stating that, “ The government’s handling of this crisis has been disastrous, for it has to date borrowed in excess of EC$321 million for combating COVID-19, with only $17M accounted to the parliament as COVID-related.”
Pierre said that despite protest calls from civil society and other groups for the government to rethink its approach to combatting the virus, the authorities have ignored those concerns.
Amongst other relevant matters, he proposed the SLP’s 7-point ‘Rescue Plan’ as an alternative option in an effort to help combat the virus, as follows;
Expand Testing and Tracing , Expand Treatment Capacity , Rethink Travel and Tourism Measures , Revise the Partial Shutdown , Protect our Education , Quickly Implement a Vaccination Programme , and Implement an Economic and Social Relief Programme.