by Cletus I. Springer
Today, I have good news and bad news. First, the bad news.
Yesterday was a bad day in the life of the CMC. Our failure to communicate to the public that cruise passengers would have been seen about, on a day when we were being confined to our homes, may have contributed to the adverse public reactions that were so vividly captured on video.
I say “may” because from my monitoring of the discussion on social media, it’s clear to me that there are many factors that may have provided fuel for the “burn” that we witnessed yesterday.
For some time now, it’s been patently clear that Tourism does not enjoy widespread public support, mainly because it’s not seen as accommodating widespread public participation in the benefits it generates.
Correcting this longstanding issue is beyond the remit of the CMC but it’s something that tourism representatives on the CMC are aware of and are determined to address. Making policy is inherently difficult and in a Covid context, it’s virtually impossible to get it right, every time. Practically every country has made its fair share of policy faux-pas. Sometimes the fault is not with the policy but with its roll-out.
We will also be reviewing our communications systems and procedures. As Chairman of the CMC, I offer sincere apologies to fellow Saint Lucians for the lapse in communication which may have fueled the public’s angst yesterday.
My read of the policy to allow cruise ship to call under strict conditions is to give some relief, however small, to long-suffering service providers. Of course, when cruise ships call during working hours there is no problem. The problem, as shown yesterday is when they call during confinement periods. We will give more thought to this in our meeting on Wednesday.
Like all Saint Lucians, we eagerly look forward to the day when confinement periods can be significantly relaxed or removed altogether. But that outcome is in the hands of each of us. We are hoping our progress will not be set back by the significant breaches of the protocols that occurred 2 weekends ago after the SOE was lifted. However, if the downward trend continues, we should see a further relaxation of confinement periods, especially on Sundays.
Now to the good news. We continue to see progress across most of the 20 health indicators we monitor. We are now down to 346 active cases and 22 hospitalizations, with 1 patient critically ill and 4 patients severely ill. This decline takes the stress off frontline personnel as well as the public purse. I warmly applaud the public’s efforts in bringing about this improvement.
A huge benefit is a reduction in the amount of $$$ government pays for oxygen. When we consider that one cylinder of oxygen last 40 minutes, reflect therefore on the cost of treating say 25 patients, 24/7 for an average of 2 weeks.
Even without telling you the cost of a cylinder of oxygen, you have a sense of the deep hole that oxygen therapy is putting in the pocket of Government. We are grateful to our friends in Martinique for helping us out, when Windward Islands Gases buckled under the strain. Happily, two oxygen production plants are being built at OKEU and St. Jude. I will update on progress on these plants, soon.
Later this week, I hope to visit the Respiratory Hotel to get a first-hand look at things there. Unlike most other Caribbean countries, we are fortunate to have a hospital dedicated to Covid. As I write, the facility is being improved. I will also be visiting the Port Health facilities at Hewanorra and the Sir George F. L Charles Airports.
I want to thank all who continue to provide ideas, and encouragement. I deeply appreciate it. As we observe All Souls Day tomorrow, please bear in mind those who have lost their lives to Covid.
Note: The foregoing is the full text of a Facebook post by the Chairperson Of Saint Lucia’s National COVID-19 Management Centre (CMC).