Amid mounting cases of COVID-19 in Saint Lucia, former Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Stephen King, has asserted that what the country needs now are ‘COVID Champions’.
He spoke against the backdrop of plans to hire 200 COVID Wardens.
The wardens, who will be given powers of arrest, are expected to help ensure compliance with COVID-19 protocols in their communities.
But Dr. Stephen King believes that instead of being called COVID Wardens, they should be designated ‘COVID Champions’.
“We need people in every community who have the power of persuasion, rather than the power of arrest,” the former CMO told St Lucia Times.
He expressed the view that an environment has to be created where every Saint Lucian is informed, educated and empowered.
King says every Saint Lucian has to take protection of themselves and their loved ones into their own hands.
He also explained that they need to accept and implement COVID-19 protocols such as social distancing, wearing masks and sanitising.
King declared that he has faith in Saint Lucians.
“I have faith that if you do inform, you do educate, if you do put influential people in every community who can persuade and remind and create that social pressure on people and encourage others to create that social pressure, I think that works,” he told St Lucia Times.
King said his experience with law enforcement and a rigid punitive approach that involves arresting and incarcerating people, is that such an approach leads to dishonesty, hiding and disempowering individuals.
“Ultimately, your strategy ends up in incarceration which is by itself, a bad practice, because you don’t want to incarcerate people in this COVID time, since you’re just creating a closed space with a number of people which is clearly counter productive,” the Consultant Pathologist declared.
He expressed the view that the new “COVID Champions’ who will be hired need to be properly oriented, deployed appropriately and see themselves as ‘powerful persuaders’ of good behaviour in every community.
Headline photo caption: Dr. Stephen King