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Second Term of School Year Opens Amid Rising COVID-19 Cases

The second term of the 2021/2022 school year commenced Monday with specific guidelines from the Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs on what should be done to ensure the safety of students across the country.

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

Above all guidelines is the call by the ministry to parents to support their child/children psychologically, by providing information and daily re-assurance to them about the pandemic.

“Cooperate and work closely with the class teacher on various safety measures put in place to keep your child safe. If you or your child/children develop respiratory symptoms, seek medical care and do not send the child/children to school,” Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sharon Belmar-George warned.

Other cautionary measures from the ministry to parent/s are as follows: ensure that their child/children are provided with clean face masks daily for school and when in public places; ensure that their child/children remain in quarantine or isolation if they were a direct contact of a case or a member of their household is positive; limit social activities at schools and socialization after school in groups and to encourage vaccination of children 12-17 years old, teachers and school support staff.

Staff at schools have been directed to ensure regular cleaning of surfaces and sanitation of all schools and environments.

“As the second term commences for our school children, we ask all stakeholders to contribute in ensuring a safe environment for sustainable school reopening. Bus drivers are reminded to ensure that all recommended measures are implemented,’ the CMO stated.

She disclosed that as of January 9, 2022 Saint Lucia diagnosed a total of 15,097 cases of the coronavirus in country, with 1190 active cases. That number when we went to press yesterday stood at 1.586. The daily infection rate for the last seven days stood at 99 per 100,000 population per day, with a 36% testing positivity rate and a transmission rate of 3.3. As of Monday the island recorded a total of 306 COVID-19 deaths. Twenty-one positive cases are housed at the Respiratory Hospital, with one case critically ill and four severely ill.

“Since the commencement of the 5th wave of COVID-19 on December 16, 2021, 1967 cases have been diagnosed with an average of 82 cases per day. Women account for 58% of the cases and 10 COVID-19 deaths have been recorded. Tourists account for 9% of the cases. The prevalence increase is noted mainly in the Castries, Gros-Islet, Dennery and Babonneau districts,” the CMO said.

There have been increases in most of the public health indicators over the last seven days, the transmission rate, test positivity rate and increased active cases.

According to the ministry, it had increased its surveillance for the Omicron variant which is characterized for the high level of transmission and warned that the Delta variant is still in circulation locally.

“Data collected from contact tracing interviews revealed the top areas of transmission include large beach parties and boat rides, public bars and private parties and events and large family gatherings,” stated Belmar-George.

With the Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson vaccines available at the various wellness centers and advertised vaccination sites, the CMO said that these vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective in protecting persons from developing COVID-19, its severe forms, complications, hospitalizations and death.

“The booster Pfizer vaccine is also available for persons who have had both doses of the AstraZeneca for over 6 months. Everyone who has not been vaccinated is urged to get vaccinated urgently,” Belmar-George said.

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