Economic Development Minister Guy Joseph has praised Saint Lucia’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis, declaring that the Island is a ‘world leader’.
He says this country is among the top five globally in dealing with the pandemic.
“Looking at the situation, I believe that – not I believe, the record is there to show, sometimes it does not matter what we believe, it matters what the reality is. The reality is Saint Lucia managed this health pandemic better than, I would say, any Island within the region,” Joseph declared.
He made the comments during an interview on the National Television Network (NTN).
According to the Minister, globally, Saint Lucia is among the top five nations in handling the crisis.
Joseph made the remarks while addressing the issue of the reopening of the national economy.
“Given that outcome and being able to deal with the situation is to move to the next step of dealing with the economy,” he explained.
The Minister acknowledged that COVID-19 is still a global pandemic.
He noted that the World Health Organisation has not said that the crisis is over.
“Countries are still trying to gauge where they are in the curve – whether they have peaked, whether they have levelled the curve sufficiently,” Joseph told NTN.
But he asserted that Saint Lucia’s economy cannot remain closed indefinitely.
“Now you have to make a choice between ‘Do I allow people to die physically?’ or ‘Do I allow people to die economically?'” Joseph explained.
He declared that one can lead to the other.
According to the Economic Development Minister, it was all about striking the right balance between economic activity and health concerns.
He noted that on the issue of health concerns, one of the last areas the Allen Chastanet administration focussed on was outfitting Victoria Hospital to be the isolation centre.
“So while we were just using the hospital, because we had moved into OKEU, it had not been fully outfitted to have all of the separations and the patient wards and everything,” Joseph said.
He disclosed that as of Saturday, the contractor began work.
“We expect at least 20 isolation rooms will be available by June 1 – that is at Victoria Hospital,” Joseph stated.
He said those would be separate and apart from all of the other facilities that are being used for quarantine, the first response centres in Gros Islet and other institutions.
Joseph said Victoria Hospital is being outfitted so in the event when the economy is opened and there is an outbreak in certain areas, the country will be better prepared to respond.
The Minister asserted that from all indications from the experts, COVID-19 will be here for a while.
He questioned whether Saint Lucia can survive focussing only on the health aspect of the pandemic, while not dealing with the economic crisis.
“That is what brings us to the point where we are taking a very measured approach and Saint Lucia continues to be a world leader in dealing with this matter,” Joseph stated.