St Lucia puts protocols in place for funeral homes amid COVID-19 fears
Saint Lucia has not recorded any COVID-19 deaths so far. Confirmed cases currently stand at two as of today, March 17, 2020.
Despite no recorded deaths, a strict protocol has been established for funeral homes in handling the remains of infected patients.
“If someone dies and COVID-19 is suspected, we would not do an autopsy on that person. The dead person will be swabbed; that is a sample taken and tested first,” Chief Medical Officer, Dr Sharon Belmar-George said.
Currently, the mortality rate for COVID-19 stands at 3·6%, however, this is subject to change due to several variables such as the quality of healthcare.
Dr Belmar says: “The burial is similar to a person with respiratory illness. We have limited capacity presently within our public sector so burials within the limit and then have to be a reduced timing for burial based on the numbers.”
She added: “If we reach a point where we get more persons dying than we can manage, I pray and hope that we don’t get to that stage and our system will be able to, I think it is important to note at this point our system definitely we would have our incident command in place, we would be at the level of NEMAC managing so it would really be level three of crisis at that point. But there is a protocol to ensure safe and secure burial at this point.”
During his address to the nation last evening, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet said no public gatherings with more than 50 people would be allowed, as Saint Lucia continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Chief Medical Officer, that figure is subject to change from 50 to 20 if the situation gets worse.
Already the island has seen the cancellation of the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival and other social events and activities, the closure of all educational institutions, while the impact on churches and businesses continues to degenerate.