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Lack of Adherence to COVID-19 Protocols Could Compromise School Reopening

A lack of adherence to COVID-19 protocols and increased social activities could compromise the reopening of schools and lead to more positive cases, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Sharon Belmar-George warned Tuesday.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sharon Belmar-George
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sharon Belmar-George

The Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs expects to see an “average resolution” of the fourth wave by November, however, Belmar-George said individuals should not let their guard down.

“The Ministry of Health expresses concern and disappointment in relation to the increased social activity and breaches reported by police over this past weekend. This will serve to increase transmission, lead to increased cases, compromise the plans for safe school re-opening and other return to normalcy activities (sic) for November, 2021,” Belmar-George said.

“We continue to ask the public to work with us and exhibit responsible behaviour to manage this fourth wave. Let us all take personal responsibility to keep ourselves and families safe,” she added.

According to Belmar-George, Saint Lucia’s daily infection rate for the past week was 17 per 100,000 per day which is a 39% decrease from the previous week. The Ministry notes a steady decline in the rate of transmission at this point with a present rate of 1.2. During that period Saint Lucia recorded 146 COVID-19 deaths, with an average of three deaths daily and a case fatality rate of 2.2%. Males account for 57% of the deaths.

“The Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs continues to manage the fourth wave in country. From July 25, 2021 to present we note 6,699 cases at an average of 80 cases per day. 50% are in the age group 25-49 years. 57% of the cases are female. At present we have 550 active cases in country. The majority of the cases are from Castries, Gros Islet, VieuxFort and Babonneau. There are presently 33 COVID-19 patients admitted to the Respiratory Hospital; seven are severely ill,” Belmar-George said.

On Monday, the Ministry confirmed six new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases diagnosed in- country to date to 12, 234. The Ministry also reported one new COVID-19 related death. This death occurred on October 15, 2021. To date, the total number of COVID-19 deaths in-country is 180 and the total number of COVID-19 related deaths is 57. COVID-19 related death #57 is a 97-year-old male from the Vieux Fort district.

Belmar-George reminded individuals about the importance of getting vaccinated and said the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines, the only two vaccines available in country at the moment, have proven to be safe and effective.

Dr. Michelle Francois
National Epidemiologist, Dr. Michelle Francois

“Both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccine (are) free of charge in country at the various wellness centers. Parents are encouraged to vaccinate their children (who are) 12 years and older. We continue to advise the public to remain vigilant and adhere to the protocols that are put in place to keep us safe. These include regular hand washing, use of face mask in public places, avoiding crowds and persons with respiratory symptoms and keeping frequently touched surfaces clean,” she added.

Meanwhile, National Epidemiologist Dr. Michelle Francois dismissed certain claims about the vaccines on Tuesday saying, “There’s a lot going around on social media coming from overnight experts and persons not understanding that when you are trying to get information about something so critical you have to look at the source of that information and so you don’t just go online and look for any study or any information.”

“Why persons would not want to trust these same sources that have introduced all our childhood vaccines, that have guided us through other pandemics and we have relied on them? They have been our support throughout the years providing technical assistance and guiding us and holding our hands no matter what we have been faced with within the region and outside of the region,” she added.

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