Today’s editorial is aimed at the Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sharon Belmar-George and her team at the Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs.
We are asking the CMO to clarify Saint Lucia’s COVID-19 status once and for all, because what appears on the ground does not reflect her message to Saint Lucians to maintain vigilance in the COVID-19 environment.
In a message delivered this week, Belmar-George said the island thus far has recorded a total of 366 COVID-19 deaths and that in the past week Saint Lucia registered COVID-19 cases daily. This in itself is worrying. But that’s not all.
Said the CMO, “… we note increases in our public health indicators. Globally, the COVID-19 cases are increasing with the steepest increase noted in the United Kingdom. Generally, there is an overall decrease in the United States of America with some states reporting significant increases. We also note the major outbreak in neighboring Martinique at this time. The sub lineages of Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 are still transmitting intensely across the globe. The number of new deaths globally have remained stable. These increases are due to the total lifting of public health measures especially in countries with low vaccination coverage. As we live safely with COVID-19, we need to ensure that as we remove restrictive measures and open up, our proven public health protective measures are in place especially to protect the most vulnerable.”
In essence, what the CMO is saying is that we are not out of the woods where COVID-19 is concerned, and that with daily cases being registered, we need to continue to abide by the protocols as set forth by the Department of Health.
Sadly, such a message is not resonating among Saint Lucians. The past few weekends have shown this to be true, as on Sundays, well-known beaches are packed with people drinking, eating and merrymaking, seemingly without a care in the world.
The popular Vigie Beach was a case in point last Sunday.
The new Gros Islet Friday night can be found in the village of Micoud where every Friday night it’s a jam session featuring hundreds of Saint Lucians drinking, eating and merrymaking without a thought to COVID-19 or its protocols.
On top all of that, there seems to be an unspoken understanding amongst the populace that the protocols have been relaxed. We know protocols have not been relaxed as the CMO still urges Saint Lucians to avoid large crowds, crowded areas, large meetings, social gatherings, etc.
Why then are we seeing mass gatherings every weekend in Micoud and other districts and on our beaches? What is going on?
It stands to reason that with the country experiencing COVID-19 cases daily, and that’s from the mouth of the CMO, coupled with the fact that she is calling on Saint Lucians to avoid crowded areas that that message is not reaching the masses and that we quite likely could find cases increasing.
This raises another point, chilling in its dimension. Are Saint Lucians interpreting that since curfews have been lifted COVID-19 is no longer a threat therefore they could congregate en masse?
We call on the CMO to clarify the situation as it stands in Saint Lucia. Please Madame CMO, is it okay for Saint Lucians to gather in groups of hundreds in this present stage of COVID-19 in Saint Lucia? If it is not okay then say so categorically. Government too must play a hand in this scenario.
If COVID-19 is still a serious threat in Saint Lucia then this Friday night street party in Micoud and elsewhere must be banned and the beach parties must be stopped immediately. When it comes to the coronavirus the people must never, ever get mixed messages.
And that’s not all. If we are still registering COVID-19 cases daily, why is it being said in certain circles that the Gros Islet Friday night street jam will resume April 29, 2022?
Perplexing too, is the announcement Thursday by Health and Wellness Minister, Moses Jn. Baptiste, that part of new protocols for the period April 2, 2022 – April 29, 2022 includes a person hosting or attending a social event consisting of not more than 200 persons. He never said the 200 persons in attendance must be fully vaccinated.
Our call on the CMO is to ensure an announcement coming from her ministry about the COVID-19 situation in country is not open to more than one interpretation, because should this happen, the impression could easily be formed that she and the minister are not singing from the same sheet.