Declaring that it’s a matter of life or death, former Health Minister Dr. Keith Mondesir Thursday called on the Allen Chastanet administration to temporarily close Saint Lucia’s borders to all but absolutely necessary traffic and institute a national lockdown for a period of time to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Mondesir made the appeal shortly after Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sharon Belmar-George, disclosed Thursday that this country had recorded 20 new cases of COVID-19.
The new patients included two visitors and eight crew members of a visiting cargo ship.
“I am not surprised,” Dr. Mondesir told St Lucia Times.
He recalled that when Saint Lucia had just a few cases, he called for the ‘front door’ to be closed by stopping airlines and ships from coming here, except for necessary business like bringing food.
Mondesir recalled saying that crew members would have to be properly screened.
However, he lamented that the government paid no heed.
The former Minister expressed the view that this was heartless and irresponsible on the part of the government.
“You cannot tell me that you will allow 18,000 people to come in from the areas that are the most affected in the world,” he said of the decision to open the tourism industry.
Mondesir also observed that on a daily basis, Saint Lucians are travelling from one part of the country to another, including Castries and Gros Islet to work at hotels.
“When the guests have it and these people go out, that’s when you have a rapid spread right around the Island,” he declared.
The former Health Minister noted, in addition, reports that some tourists are presenting fake negative COVID-19 tests.
He warned that there are no facilities to support any disaster in Saint Lucia.
In response to the argument that closing the borders and going into lockdown would deprive many of their livelihoods, Mondesir asserted that the choice must be made between living or dying.
He observed that Britain is shut down while some American states are shutting down rapidly.
“Close the border to all tourists for a while and get it under control,” he declared in relation to the Saint Lucia situation.
Mondesir also favoured a national lockdown.
“Lockdown everything, control what you have so you can put a stop to it,” he told St Lucia Times.