The Chairman of Saint Lucia’s national COVID-19 Management Centre (CMC), Cletus Springer, has underscored the responsibility of each citizen to contribute meaningfully to the fight against COVID-19 as this country battles a 5th wave of the virus, which health officials say has not yet peaked.
As a result, Saint Lucia expects more increases in COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks.
“We can and we must beat this fifth wave quickly. There is too much at stake,” Springer told a news conference on Wednesday.
Springer asserted that it is in everyone’s best interest, regardless of their agenda, age, job, religion, or political persuasion, to ensure that this country overcomes the fifth wave in the shortest possible time.
“The question each and everyone of us must ask ourselves is: ‘How do we contribute? How do I contribute?’ What must I do? The simple reality is that our future and that of our country is in our hands,” the CMC Chairman asserted.
According to Springer, things can get better or worse depending on people’s behavior and their choices.
National Epidemiologist Dr. Michelle Francois-D’ Auvergne compared the period from January 5 to 11 with the end of December into the beginning of January, noting an infection rate of 116.6 per 100,000 population.
She said this compared to the forty-seven for the previous seven days.
“So we have more than doubled the infection rate. When we look at also our test positivity rate, that has significantly increased as well,” the National Epidemiologist told the news conference.
“When we look at the daily infection rate we are at 116. We should be under ten,” the senior Health Ministry official declared.
Francois-D’ Auvergne explained that according to international guidelines, being under ten per 100,000 population indicates low transmission.
She said the authorities are monitoring the situation closely to ensure there is no outbreak at learning institutions and children are safe.
The National Epidemiologist said the steep increase in COVID-19 cases in Saint Lucia is a cause for concern as the health care system is in danger of being overwhelmed.
As a result, she urged strict adherence to the protocols and public health measures to reduce the spread of the virus while acknowledging that there’s currently a level of ‘COVID fatigue.’
The National Epidemiologist reiterated that although Saint Lucia has not confirmed the presence of the Omicron Variant, health authorities suspect it is already here.
“We behave as if it is on the Island at the moment,” she stated.
Immunisation Manager Tecla Jn Baptiste told the news conference that vaccines remain Saint Lucia’s most cost-effective measure in the COVID-19 fight in addition to prevention and control measures.
The COVID-19 vaccine rollout locally started in February 2021.
Still, despite vaccine availability throughout the Island and a public education campaign, Jn Baptiste disclosed that as of January 11, 27.7 percent of the population had attained full vaccine coverage, with 3.4 percent partially vaccinated.
Jn Baptiste said health officials had noted an overall decrease in the response at the vaccination sites over the past two to three months as vaccine hesitancy continues to be a ‘major challenge.’