WE ask this question based on what we are seeing today and the responses of the authorities that be to the madness taking place all around us.
We rarely challenge the actions of the authorities, particularly the Ministry of Health, the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force, the Saint Lucia Medical and Dental Association and others. After all we are fully aware of the difficulties they face, more so in these turbulent COVID-19 times.
However, there are times that we just cannot stay silent and today is such a time simply because we, in the past, have alerted, through this very column, these same authorities of the dangerous activities being undertaken by contesting politicians. Activities which could have a crippling effect on the economy if they are not checked, meaning halted immediately.
By activities we mean the mass gathering of people under the banners of the United Workers Party and the Saint Lucia Labour Party. Such gatherings started with a handful of people and grew and grew right under the noses of the Chief Medical Officer and the Police Commissioner.
Seeing that only 12 percent of the population have been fully vaccinated, it stands to reason that until we reach that magical percentage of 70, from which we could claim herd immunity, small, large and mass gatherings should be banned, more so now that we have the British variant of the disease in country and by health officials’ estimation, other variants may soon make their presence known.
Until this week, there seems to have been an unspoken agreement, some telepathic understanding amongst the authorities and political parties that motorcades are safe and therefore should be allowed as people will remain in the vehicles they are in. Further, that motorcades will only be within constituencies.
For two straight weeks we have seen the opposite as supporters of both parties gathered en masse, violating every single COVID-19 protocol. Supporters of both parties, this past weekend, crashed the protocols completely as wild abandonment ensued. It was Carnival 2021. The only thing that was missing were costumes, these creative body adornments that fetch such a high price. Island-wide motorcades by the political parties invaded the peace of last Sunday. So too were constituencies motorcades. Simply put, it was party time.
The signs were there weeks ago of what the country would come to if nothing was done. We warned against this. We laid the problem squarely at the feet of the Chief Medical Officer, the highest authority in the land in charge of the pandemic. No strong statement was made, no firm command given to rein in the horses that were frothing at the mouth, straining to be free from their harnesses.
With what could only be viewed as reluctance on the part of the authorities to keep the horses in check by firmly tightening their harnesses and locking the stable doors, the horses, sensing that reluctance broke their harnesses and bolted.
With the horses already loose up comes the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force on Monday banning island-wide motorcades. The COVID-19 protocols that were put in place specifically for campaigning were completely violated last Sunday and the weekend before.
Also, on Monday came the Ministry of Health with a reminder that “we are still managing a pandemic with over 100 active cases in country with low vaccine coverage.” According to the Ministry this puts Saint Lucians at high risk for in-country transmission due to large activities without adherence to public health measures.
We shudder to think that the Ministry is just coming to that conclusion. But then what do we know? Only that the horses have already bolted and bringing them back may be too late. We hope we are wrong and that what happened over the past weekend will not shift the COVID-19 needle higher.