Wednesday 25 November, 2020

Public help needed for contact tracing of uncooperative COVID patient

National Security Minister Hermangild Francis.

National Security Minister Hermangild Francis.

Members of the public are being asked to play their part in eliminating the spread of the coronavirus on island, as confirmed case number 29 is not providing any feedback to local health officials who are trying to determine the virus’s source.

“Right now we have a situation where we are not able to figure out where the contamination came through. We have someone who is ill who reported sick to our hospital, was tested and presented with COVID-19, yet this person is refusing to cooperate with the authorities at the Ministry of Health refusing to give us information that can save the lives of many Saint Lucians,” Health Minister, Senator Mary Isaac said.

The patient, who is a minibus driver, has stated he does not have the virus.

According to Issac, this, coupled with his reluctance to provide health officials with any information, is a major health risk to the nation.

However, the law does not allow for action to be taken against the delinquent individual.

“At the end of the day, you can’t just arrest anybody if you yourself don’t have the information,” National Security Minister, Senator Hermangild Francis told Loop News Tuesday.

“Everybody is still not knowledgeable as to how he got it, he is the only person that can give that sort of information,” the minister said.

Speculation has been rife that the driver may have met individuals who entered the country illegally, hence his hesitation towards authorities.

“There is nothing that we can do unless we get evidence to link him to something illegal, then he can be arrested and charged.”

The ministry, he says, lacks the capacity to send in investigators on the ground to investigate the case.

The public, according to Minister Francis, can provide the police with information, which could lead authorities to where the minibus driver contracted the disease.

Saint Lucia has recorded 36 confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date, eight of which were recorded in less than 14 days.

The general public is reminded that though the Ministry of Health has been able to establish a link among cases number 29 to 36, it is possible that there may be community transmission of COVID-19.

“As such, we all need to remain on high alert and ensure that throughout each day all the necessary measures are undertaken to reduce the risk of being exposed to COVID-19.

“This can be done by following the guidelines for preventing the spread of the infection which include consistently using face masks in public places, keeping a safe physical distance from others, washing or sanitizing hands frequently particularly throughout the day, and promptly seeking care at the closest Respiratory Clinic if you experience respiratory signs and symptoms,” according to the Health Ministry.

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