The United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has deemed that the risk of COVID-19 in Saint Lucia is high and has recommended that travellers avoid all non-essential international travel here.
Local officials met Friday to discuss the CDC assessment, with Health Minister Mary Isaac telling Saint Lucia Times that they were ‘baffled’ by the news.
The CDC’s official website has placed Saint Lucia at warning level 3 – the highest.
“This is very puzzling,” Saint Lucia’s Health Minister declared.
Isaac said she does not know of any justification for the CDC assessment.
She said Saint Lucia is confident that it has been able to contain the virus and manage the three cases it currently has.
Isaac noted that all three patients are doing extremely well and on their way to recovery.
“We really do not know where this is coming from – this is quite a blow to us here in Saint Lucia,” the Minister said in regard to the CDC COVID-19 travel advisory.
She told St Lucia Times she suspects that maybe the CDC has ‘lumped’ all the Caribbean countries together because of the COVID-19 situation in one or two other countries of the region.
“I am not sure, but it certainly would be good to find out on what basis they have decided to put out this advisory,” Isaac stated.
She expressed the view that the CDC advisory was not well founded.
“I do not think it is called for, so we are trying to figure out where it is coming from and why they have done this,” Isaac told St Lucia Times.
She said it is impacting negatively on Saint Lucia and has serious implications for the economy, especially since this country has made every effort to contain the virus and keep its people safe.
“It is almost as if they are saying we have not done what is necessary, whereas we are one of the countries in the whole world that have done exceptionally well in terms of controlling the spread of COVID,” Isaac explained.
In addition to recommending that travellers avoid all non-essential international travel to Saint Lucia, the CDC said this week that travellers at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should consider postponing all travel, including essential travel, to Saint Lucia.
The CDC’s official website explained that the agency’s Travel Health Notice (THN) risk assessment is based on two sets of criteria.
The primary criteria contain information about virus transmission within a country, while the secondary criteria relate to a country’s health care and public health infrastructure.
“A country can move from a Level 3 (High Risk) to a lower THN level or no THN when primary and secondary criteria are met,” according to the CDC.
Saint Lucia has so far recorded 25 cases of COVID-19 with no deaths.