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Saint Lucia Records 450 Cases of COVID-19

Is COVID-19 on The Rise?

By Marvlin Anthony
Medical Surveillance Officer in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Dana DaCosta
Medical Surveillance Officer in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Dana DaCosta

SAINT Lucia continues to record COVID-19 cases despite a generally low testing rate, the Ministry of Health said this week.

Although the Covid-19 virus is no longer considered a global health emergency, Saint Lucia has recorded 450 cases to date, Medical Surveillance Officer in the Ministry of Health Dr. Dana DaCosta Gomez told THE VOICE in an interview yesterday.

The Ministry of Health is monitoring the situation closely she said.

But is Covid-19 slowly making a comeback in Saint Lucia?

Saint Lucia has hosted a number of events of late, attracting crowds from near and far, but according to Dr. Gomez, “I would not go as far as saying that, we have not seen a great increase in cases compared to what we’ve been seeing before.  The rise in cases is expected because globally there have been an increase in the incidents of Covid-19 cases.”

“It’s being attributed to ‘Eris’, the Covid-19 variant which has been found in the U.S. and the U.K., it has been around since 2022,” Dr. Gomez said.

Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations are on the rise in the U.S., Europe and Asia, Michael Erman, a correspondent for ‘Reuters’ pointed out in an article. That article was published on August 14.

The World Health Organization (WHO) classified EG.5, which has been nicknamed by some as “Eris”, as a “variant of interest,” indicating that it should be more closely watched than others because of mutations that might make it more contagious or severe, Erman added.

But while EG.5 has shown increased prevalence, growth advantage, and immune escape properties, there has been no reported changes in disease severity to date, the WHO said recently.

Locally, Dr. Gomez said, the Ministry is seeing an increased number of patients visiting health care facilities with respiratory symptoms, however, some individuals are doing Covid-19 tests at home, she added.

“The home tests are available so we may not be capturing (some of) the confirmed cases. So they’ll have the symptoms, do the test at home and probably isolate and stay away from work and socializing for a period of time. That’s why we believe we’re not seeing the numbers (like before) when we had outbreaks,” Dr. Gomez explained.

“You know how our culture is, when persons have the flu, (they) take some bush medicine, stay at home, get better and then they go back to work,” she added.

Although Saint Lucia has recorded just over 400 cases (that was prior to press time yesterday), Dr. Gomez said those cases are not severe.

According to her, “our rate of admission has not increased drastically and most persons can be treated at home.”

Individuals who have tested positive for Covid-19 and those who are showing symptoms of the virus should take the necessary steps to ensure that others are not infected, she indicated.

“Our policy has not changed as it pertains to that,” she noted, adding that individuals should isolate themselves if required.

“We continue to let persons know what the measures are even though we don’t have the lockdowns, etc.,” Dr. Gomez said.

As for whether carnival celebrations and others like it will lead to an increase in Covid-19 cases? Dr. Gomez said “as with any social activity—and it has been seen previously and in other countries as well, when you have mass gatherings you will find that there will be a spike in cases.”

“I cannot say for say sure that there will be an explosion in cases but people are presenting to the health care facilities more…”

In case there is an outbreak the Ministry is prepared, she said.

“We will (use) the measures that we had previously… and we still practice up to today. We want individuals to get tested in order to prevent the transmission because if you get tested you will know what your diagnosis is and you can take more preventative measures,” Dr. Gomez said.

New Covid vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax will likely provide protection against the new “Eris” variant, ‘CNBC’ noted recently.

Locally, gastroenteritis cases are also on the rise, the ministry said this week.

“Following a statement released on July 15, 2023 regarding the surge in the number of gastroenteritis cases, the Ministry of Health continues to record increases in cases,” the ministry said in a press statement.

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