More than two years ago the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak, a public health emergency of International Concern, with over 196 countries following the public health recommendations put forward.
Throughout these years countries have adjusted their response measures as they went through the different phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. In each phase, Saint Lucia strengthened its public health capacity to effectively manage COVID-19. Nevertheless, the effects of COVID-19 on the workplace and schools evidenced by the loss of productivity and the loss of academic days due to many persons falling ill or being in quarantine were noticeable.
This has affected both the public and private sector organizations and face to face learning at schools.
After review and assessments, the Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs announces further adjustments to the public health measures in response to COVID-19:
• The wearing of face masks is optional but remains highly recommended to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 particularly in closed settings or where many persons are gathered such as: – Health Services – Elderly Care Homes and Institutions – Educational Facilities/Schools – Religious institutions – Correctional Facilities such as prisons / Boys Training Center, etc.
• Hand sanitization and temperature checks are also recommended but optional based on each institution’s policy.
• There have been some adjustments to the quarantine protocols based on the mode of transmission of the disease and the recent trends observed in the disease:
• Asymptomatic contacts of a positive case identified through the contact tracing process can continue to work or attend classes but must wear a mask. Should they become symptomatic whilst at work or school they should immediately isolate and test.
• Symptomatic contacts of a positive case should be tested and must isolate at home pending test results.
Despite these adjustments and global trends indicating a decrease in the number of new weekly cases and deaths we must remain vigilant. Our national epidemic curve shows sustained viral transmission whilst less persons are presenting for testing and more persons are self-treating. This means that the virus is still very much present in the community. The importance of personal responsibility and the practice of proper infection prevention measures cannot be overemphasized. At this stage these two measures are critical in preventing the spread of the disease and in keeping ourselves and our families safe and healthy.