Today we focus on a grim reality which appears to have been forgotten by Saint Lucians, both commoners and lords – that the coronavirus is still amongst us and is still claiming the lives of Saint Lucians of all ages.
A sobering reminder was given by the Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs which earlier this week reported a total of 86 new cases of COVID-19 from samples processed on Friday, September 23, 2022, to Monday October 3, 2022.
According to the Ministry these new cases were derived from a total of 629 samples collected from September 26, 2022, to October 1, 2022, making this number of positive cases 14% of all the samples processed on these dates.
The Ministry further stated that these new cases brought the total number of cases diagnosed in country to date to 29, 517. Confirmation was also received of the recovery of 205 individuals diagnosed with COVID-19, bringing the number of active cases in country to date to 45, as per Thursday evening when this editorial was written.
As of Thursday evening, four positive cases of COVID-19 were admitted at the Respiratory Hospital.
The sobering reality of all of this is the fact that this week as well, the Ministry of Health reported seven new COVID-19 deaths and two new COVID-19 related deaths.
We pause here to let this sink in.
Over the past few weeks, the once highly touted COVID-19 protocols, which included the wearing of face masks, sanitisation of hands and distancing one from another (six feet or more), have all but vanished from Fair Helen.
While a handful or less of the citizens can be seen with face masks, the (huge) majority have abandoned this practice altogether. Long lines of people waiting for this or that are without face coverings. Supermarkets, banks, outdoor and indoor activities and all other places where crowds can be formed have all abandoned most, if not all COVID-19 protocols.
The discipline business places employed in the past in seeing to it that customers adhered to the COVID-19 protocols has been relaxed, to the point where customers stroll in and out of these places without being challenged to even sanitise their hands, even though sanitizer machines are near the entrances of these business houses.
The public’s behaviour and attitude to the virus stems from a government decision, one month ago, to make changes to the COVID-19 protocols. The effective date for these changes was September 5, 2022.
The changes included the removal of the physical distance and mass crowd limitation protocol. Also removed was the capacity restriction on public transportation, however mask wearing remained, but as stated earlier, is not adhered to today.
The hand sanitation and temperature checks on entry to business establishments were downgraded to optional and at the discretion of the service provider, while business establishments reserved the right to implement public health measures as required.
The wearing of face masks remained optional. However government highly recommended its’ wearing to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, mandating that it be used in the following circumstances: if one has tested positive for COVID-19, has respiratory symptoms or is a direct contact of a positive case, accessing general health services, accessing police and fire stations, correctional facilities, elderly homes, attending religious ceremonies where there are large crowds of people in close contact, educational institutions, in enclosed crowded environments and accessing public transportation.
Knowing that the majority of Saint Lucians no longer subscribe to the above-mentioned changes to the COVID-19 protocols, we take this opportunity to plead with them to remember that the virus still exists and still kills.
So far, the total number of COVID-19 deaths in country is 300 while the total number of COVID-19 related deaths stands at 101, a sobering reality that we are not yet out of the woods where the coronavirus is concerned.