The Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs has vowed to take urgent and new actions to manage the surge of COVID-19 cases in Saint Lucia. The Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs received notification from the Caribbean Public Health Agency of 6 new cases of Variants of Concern. Minister for Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs, Hon. Alva Baptiste revealed in a statement that he has been advised that three of the variants are that of the Alpha Variant (B.1.1.7) and three are of the Delta Variant (B.1.617.2).
These are the first 3 cases of Delta Variant which has been diagnosed in Saint Lucia. The island now notes a total of 54 Alpha Variant cases. Of the six confirmed cases of the Variants of Concern, two of them are visitors from the United States. Three of the four local cases are from the south of the island. Only one of the six cases is fully vaccinated. They are all in a stable condition.
The presence of the Delta Variant in Saint Lucia is of great concern to the Government of Saint Lucia and the health authorities. The Delta Variant is known to be more contagious, with a much higher viral load, up to 80% more transmissible than the regular strain. It is also known to affect a younger population, without underlying health conditions. It causes more severe illness and hospitalization and deaths. Typically, a small percentage of vaccinated people may get COVID-19 but they are either asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms if they contract the Delta Variant.
“I am advised that unvaccinated people remain of greatest concern due to their reduced capacity to fight this virus. The effects are more severe,” said the Health Minister.
He further added that based on the confirmation of the Delta Variant in country, it is even more important that all recommended public health measures are taken to protect our health and well-being. The public is urged to get vaccinated at the soonest. “The vaccines are available free of charge on a daily basis. Although we do not mandate vaccination, we encourage the public to follow the science and get the vaccine to keep themselves and family safe. The Government of Saint Lucia is committed to ensuring that all measures to strengthen the present system are in place. We have requested and received the vaccination plan to increase the uptake of the vaccine in communities. Currently, we are in the process of increasing the testing capacity. We will be receiving the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday next week to widen the options for vaccines and will continue working to increase the range of available vaccines.”
The electronic vaccine passport will be available to the public from August 23, 2021. We are also in discussion with a service provider to ensure that conditions at the Victoria Respiratory Hospital are improved.
“At this stage in the epidemic, we urge the public to adhere to the new protocols in place. It is imperative that we take all the necessary precautions and it is imperative that we act urgently to fight the infection, to prevent the infection and to adopt the control measures which will reduce transmission to ourselves and our families at this time.”
The Minister for Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs will announce additional actions and measures after Cabinet meets on August 16, 2021.