Sunday 29 November, 2020

COVID surge in St Lucia could trigger return of stricter protocols

Chief Medical Officer Dr Sharon Belmar-George

Chief Medical Officer Dr Sharon Belmar-George

Stricter COVID-19 protocols in St Lucia are expected to kick in should recorded cases of the disease hit a certain point within a specific time period.

Saint Lucia has recorded 34 new COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks.

If 50 new cases are recorded within a 14-day period, the island will roll back from phase 5 of the government's re-opening plan to phase 4 protocols.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Sharon Belmar-George said, “What we do, in a similar way when moved forward, we looked at what the most high-risk services were and we also judge on the level of how essential that service is.”

Some of these restrictions have already begun including restrictions on mass crowd events, which have been reduced from a 500 person limit to 50 people, as well as restrictions on boat rides, parties and community activities, and the temporary closure of schools.

Other restrictions that would follow include working from home and restricting cinemas, bars, and any other activity which would limit the movement and interaction with people.

“These are the higher risk of activities for transmission we would scale down first,” the CMO said.

According to health officials, an assessment of the next step moving forward is based on the ongoing contact tracing.

“Currently the discussions and decisions are being had as to how best to proceed in terms of whether we move towards curfew or whatever other measures we need to put in place but clearly in order to slow down transmission we need to limit the movement of persons,” national epidemiologist Dr Michelle Francois said.

“At the point where we are, this is the most rapid increase that we have seen in cases from the beginning of the outbreak,” said Dr Belmar-George.

“The increasing cases, especially the rate of increasing cases, is of concern to the ministry," she continued.

Saint Lucia to date has recorded 63 confirmed cases, 18 of which were imported with 45 local infections.

Three of these cases were repatriated and 27 patients recovered, leaving 36 active cases with no recorded deaths.

Health officials urge the general public to adhere to the recommendations for infection prevention and control which include:

  • Regular handwashing with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitiser where soap and water is not available
  • Covering mouth and nose with disposable tissues or inner elbows when coughing and sneezing.
  • Adhering to the recommended physical distancing measures.

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