Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs Moses Jn Baptiste citing the presence in Saint Lucia of the COVID-19 sub-variant XBB1.5 and a spike in flu cases, has said that although the use of masks is encouraged, it is not compulsory.
Earlier this month, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sharon Belmnar-George announced that Saint Lucia had confirmed 12 XBB1.5 cases.
And Health Minister Moses Jn Baptiste has observed that several people are battling the flu.
“People are showing up at the health centres and the hospitals with severe flu symptoms. So yes, the wearing of masks is encouraged but not compulsory,” he told reporters on Tuesday on the sidelines of a parliament sitting.
He said COVID-19 sub-variants are a source of concern but mask-wearing in Saint Lucia is no longer mandatory but encouraged, especially for people who show flu symptoms or are around others who do.
And the Minister told reporters that Saint Lucia continues strengthening its port health systems.
The COVID-19 sub-variant XBB1.5, which has been identified in Saint Lucia, is a concerning development as it may have different properties than the original virus strain. This highlights the importance of continuing to adhere to public health guidelines and taking precautions to reduce the risk of infection. The spike in flu cases also adds to the urgency of taking preventive measures, as the flu can also have serious health consequences.