The Omicron variant has most probably made landfall here. The increase in active cases can certainly be attributed to the Delta variant aided and abetted by the Omicron. Having to face these variants is part of the story but addressing the problem intelligently is another. Laying blame on a sitting administration should not be the only way of registering our dissatisfaction but failing to take the appropriate and decisive measures can be firmly placed on the shoulders of the administration. Political expediency is one thing but messing around with administering the rule of law is unacceptable. The current prime minister goofed when he allowed persons responsible for disobedience to disappear by his infamous expungement decision. Secondly, the decisions instituted by the hierarchy during the festive season were a gross error when in fact they had the experience before of what to expect but again catering to the masses places St Lucia in a very awkward situation.
One would have thought that with all the information floating around, regarding the measures taken to contain persons congregating at specific periods that such information would have been followed. Case in point being the 1:00 a.m. cut off period for Christmas and New Years where one minister declared openly that persons had bought their drinks and food and it was unfair to deny them the privilege of selling their wares. This is so childish and immature for a minister to be thinking along those lines in the midst of a pandemic. We wonder how that minister feels today as he witnesses the death toll climbing at an alarming rate based on hundreds of cases per day at intervals.
The additional factors are the cost to the nation for hospitalization and medication plus the toll it has taken both on the public and private sectors for staff delinquencies. The Respiratory Hospital as we are all aware was created specifically for Covid-19 patients and this by itself represents an additional cost of $35 million annually not taking into account the increase costs of oxygen and all the testing devices.
Governments arrears on oxygen supplies currently stands at over $4 million and that is serious when citizens don’t adhere to protocols and the tax payer has to pick up the tab. In some cases, even though persons have recovered, Covid is known to leave many side effects which patients can endure months and possibly years later. Government should remain cognizant that since only twenty eight percent of the population is vaccinated, seventy percent remain at risk of experiencing deeper complications. It is our understanding that since the CDC placed St Lucia within category four, the nation has been disadvantaged by way of our tourism arrivals which is our number one revenue provider.
The current administration needs to increase their level of maturity if they wish to be respected as leaders as St Lucia has a population of 180,000 persons to be cared for and this is no small responsibility. On the other hand, we patiently await the format of the new budget as we need to understand which direction the country is heading. Word on the ground reveals that VAT is earmarked to be increased which is bad news for the economy when the private sector is already scrunting and prices within every sector are at an all-time high.