Wake Up, My People!

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by Dr. Amanda King MBBS, FRCP

I am not a “gadè” but I understand enough about viral infections, prevention of disease, promotion of wellness, and how illness, uncertainty and fear of illness and its consequences impact quality and quantity of lives physically, emotionally, socially and financially….. to have predicted COVID’s behaviour correctly so far. I would love you to read my previous pieces- “Six week strategy for success with COVID 19 in St. Lucia” and “Safe St. Lucia, the place to be in 2020”- to follow my thinking. The following are my thoughts.

I was told I was naïve when I suggested almost a year ago that the way to handle this virus is to prevent its spread. Stop travel, stop interacting physically, wear masks (over the nose and mouth), stay 6 feet apart, wash hands or sanitise properly and frequently, avoid touching your face for a few weeks. I know some of us would find it “impossible” to do for another year, and all of us would find it extremely difficult, but that will be the reality if we don’t all do it properly for” a time”. Imagine the whole world doing this for 1 month at the same time. This would eliminate the virus and we could get back to life as we knew it. It is the most cost-effective humanitarian strategy. It can be done and is the subject of my next article.

This piece though, is about us in St. Lucia today.

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We are at a point in time where numbers are increasing exponentially. We are not seeing the true figures because we are not doing enough testing. Even now,I understand our respiratory centres are starting to feel the strain. We clearly are struggling to cope when tests are taking over a week to come back. These numbers were expected when there was no significant mitigation over the holiday season, and school was reopened at a time of obvious community spread.

Some St. Lucians have been fearful and hibernating for nine months now, while others are out in the street, in bars, restaurants, liming with family and friends, with no mask, “pa mélé”. Many are at work not following the protective measures 100% of the time. I agree it may feel difficult but if some of us can do it, we all can. We need to see how to effect change in behaviour of the unbelievers and those who think you are “immune”. You will believe when it comes to your door, but I do not wish that upon you.

What do we need right now?

1.Send school children home until no community spread. Ensure we have an enhanced learning experience for them, because we can! They must all have devices and wifi. Is that so difficult? We are all in this together. Ask us all for help. If the capacity of the internet needs to be increased do it and do it now.

  1. For 3 weeks stay away from everyone outside your immediate family. When you must go out- to the supermarket, the pharmacy, the doctor, essential work, take your sanitiser with you, wear your mask properly, keep your 6 foot distance. Do not hide in the bar until after the wardens have gone, or at the back where no one can see. COVID will find you. In my opinion you can still and must still exercise- indoor and outdoor, individually or with immediate family. Maintain healthy habits.
  1. Improve and expand testing- involve all who can help- Forensic lab, private labs should be doing PCR. Doctors’ offices can do rapid antigen testing.

Government should oversee this testing, ensuring standards at all time. This will help people stay at work if negative or get back to work quickly. At the moment our strategy is decreasing work productivity tremendously.

  1. Improve contact tracing. Use technology to help. Ask partners for more help.
  1. Test all who enter St. Lucia, before allowing them to integrate with others. We may be able to shorten the quarantine then, which will enhance our tourism product and improve our productivity and economy.
  1. Be willing to adapt to new situations quickly and proactively.
  1. Implement educational strategies that will have a positive impact on knowledge and behaviour of all individuals. Engage communities and all stakeholders to help with this.
  1. Provide motivational support for all through the media, and ensure there is psychological help for those who need- especially those with COVID, their caregivers, health care workers and other front-line workers.

I assume Government will put in further measures soon and I look forward to that. Our economy depends on it.

We have an individual and collective responsibility. COVID will not go away unless we fight it in a way that it understands. It will overwhelm us if we do not act now. However it is a war that we can win.

Please, wake up to your responsibility in this fight, for your good, for your loved ones and all St. Lucians.

  1. Wake up my people- hymn by Ray Repp (

 

 

 

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Our Editorial Staff at St. Lucia Times is a team publishing news and other articles to over 200,000 regular monthly readers in Saint Lucia and in over 150 other countries worldwide.

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