Dear Prime Minister,
Let me wish you and your administration all the very best for the New Year.
We have been through some hard times, and they are not over still, yet by the grace of God, we will overcome.
I know that we have seen yet another scare with the Omicron variant, but I have been following these developments closely, and I know that you have said numerous times that you will always be guided by the science. From what we are seeing Sir, I appeal to you and your government to not panic, and not have us revert to self-defeating lockdowns and panic measures. Omicron may be contagious, but it is only resulting in mild symptoms for the vaccinated and even un-vaxxed.
I know that it is easy to look at the big players such as the UK, US, Australia and Canada and try to follow suit, but Prime Minister, their kettle of fish is different to ours. These countries can afford to give their citizens healthy relief packages when they lock down, with some people earning more that they even made on their normal jobs. They can afford to do that…we cannot. I remember the Recover Saint Lucia initiative which very properly said that we have to save not just lives but also the livelihoods on which those lives depend. We cannot afford another lockdown sir.
More than that Prime Minister, if we are to call a spade a spade we are no longer facing a COVID crisis, we are facing a crisis of the unvaccinated! The figures show clearly that it is the un=vaxxed persons who, sadly, are the ones getting sick, dying from COVID, and are the ones filling up the hospitals. If we need to put effort into an area then it is to get people to understand the need to get vaxxed, because locking them down just kicks the can down the road.
We should not allow all of us to suffer for the decisions made by a few, and lockdowns and constant changes to the protocols do more harm than good to the country.
The fact is that Saint Lucia has done well. The country has strong protocols in place, we have been able to manage the tourism sector which is vital to our economic survival, and we have seen strong numbers. Saint Lucia stands out for the fact that it has a five-day period in which to present your negative PCR test, while a number of other countries have three. Simple math will tell you it’s just a one-day difference. In other words, the argument to reduce it to three days implies that you expect that if the person contracts COVID, it must be on the 4th day! Think about it; if they are tested on day five and day three (for the 72 hour requirement), then you will pick up whether they are positive or not on those days, so are you telling me that that one day, day four, is going to make such a big difference? Besides, with five days you are sure that if the virus incubates you should catch it with your temperature and other checks at the airport, someone with a 72-hour test might slip through – think about it.
We need to remain vigilant, we need to stick to the protocols that exist, and we need to resist reactive measures for the sake of showing we are doing something when in the end it just does more harm than good.
The issue dear PM is not Delta, Gamma, Lambda, Mu or now Omicron …the issue is in the refusal of persons to take a vaccine that can not only save their lives, but if they do get sick, will cause only mild symptoms so they do not overwhelm our health sector.
The issue is the fact that I drove through Rodney Bay on Boxing Day, and half an hour before the curfew saw hundreds of persons without masks jumping up and partying in two bars toward the end of the stretch – and I saw no police or anyone else out enforcing the protocols. If we leave the gate wide open on the ground, it is disingenuous to blame it on people travelling into the country, all of whom at least are tested, so if positive we can have them isolated.
Enforcement of existing protocols and heightened vaccinations efforts: that is where our effort must lie.