The Chief Executive Officer of the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association (SLHTA), Noorani Azeez, has not ruled out a travel ban as six countries in South America report suspected and confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne disease – yellow fever.
“Nothing is off the table when it comes to ensuring the health and safety of the citizens of our country,” Azeez declared.
However he told reporters it would be difficult to predict a travel ban against the countries where yellow fever cases have been suspected or identified.
Those countries have been named as Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, the Plurinational State of Bolivia, and Suriname.
The SLHTA CEO said he was comfortable with the fact that Saint Lucia got an early start on how to protect its borders.
“I would want to reaffirm our confidence in the various stakeholders and the various authorities to ensure that everyone is on guard and working to the very best off their professional competence, so if the threat were to arise I certainly expect that the right decision will be taken in the interest of our citizens at that point in time,” Azeez said.
He explained that for the past three years the SLHTA has been a close partner with the Ministry of health and community based stakeholders in addressing some of these issues arising from chikungunya, zika and now – yellow fever.
“The good thing that over the past three years we have been able to develop sound protocols for addressing these issues.” Azeez explained.
He said the SLHTA’s partnership with the ministry of health and a number of community stakeholders has been strengthened.
As a result, Azeez expressed confidence that the collective approach to the current yellow fever issue would be one that has been tried and tested.
He asserted that should deficiencies come to the fore, they would provide an opportunity to look at how the stakeholders engage and ensure that Saint Lucia is safeguarded from the yellow fever threat.
“We are trying to ensure that there are no gaps to minimise opportunities for leakages and ensure that persons coming in from those destination are themselves vaccinated against the disease,” the SLHTA official stated.