Our priority is health, not tourism – Health Minister Mary Isaac
Minister of Health Senator Mary Isaac
Minister of Health Senator Mary Isaac spoke with reporters this morning, Thursday, March 12, 2020, ahead of today’s sitting of the senate.
She was asked about what St Lucia’s priority is when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, tourism or the health of St Lucians?
“Well, obviously you have seen that it is the health of the people of St Lucia because we have turned away a number of cruise ships, unfortunately so, because the very people in St Lucia who we are protecting, some of them are the ones complaining that we are cutting off their bread. So we are putting the health of the people of St Lucia first and foremost.”
In the context of the increasing cancellation or postponement of events around the world, including the suspension of NBA games after two Utah Jazz players were confirmed to have the virus, the minister was asked about what would happen for St Lucia’s upcoming marquee mass crowd events St Lucia Jazz and Carnival.
“We will look at each event in its own merit and decide on the timing to inform whether it should be cancelled or not. There are some events where you have international people coming, these events require that you cancel earlier than events where you just have national artistes and so on and so forth, so we are evaluating these different events and then at the right time we will come out and say at the right time whether they will be cancelled.”
The minister was asked if St Lucia might take a similar action as US President Donald Trump who announced a 30-day travel ban for Europe with the exception of the UK last night.
“Well that is a very interesting move because I know the case in St Vincent is somebody who visited the UK and there are many cases where people visited the UK, so unlike the president of the United States what we can do in St Lucia is protect our people, secure our borders…”
Loop News asked Minister Isaac about those who come to St Lucia from Martinique that do not go through security checks and arrive in St Lucia via dinghy boats to partake in the Gros Islet Friday night street party. Loop News continued, asking if the event should be cancelled considering Martinique has confirmed cases of the virus.
The minister responded, “Everybody coming into St Lucia, whether it is on a yacht or whatever, has to check in with our customs authority before they come to shore. Sometimes what they do is, the boat checks in and they move back out and then they take the dinghy and come on board. Unless you have proof of otherwise I don’t think we should continue to make such allegations.”
The minister concluded by saying, “What I can assure you is anything else is not a priority as much as the safety of our people.”