497 COVID-19 CASES CONFIRMED IN LAST 14 DAYS IN ST.LUCIA: Statement by Hon. Moses Jn. Baptiste Minister for Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs

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Statement by Hon. Moses Jn. Baptiste
Minister for Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs
August 19, 2021
COVID-19 UPDATE
Salutations
As we speak, the Command Centre is meeting and will generate a report of their recommendations.
This report will then be used to guide the discussions and decisions by NEMAC who will meet
later today. This address is to provide an update of the work of the Ministry of Health, Wellness,
and Elderly Affairs on the COVID-19 management in Saint Lucia.
Over the last 14 days (July 31st to August 13th), 497 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded. This
new surge in Covid-19 cases which greeted me, immediately upon assuming the office of Minister
for Health Wellness and Elderly Affairs, is the most important health concern for the majority of
Saint Lucians and has been the number one priority of the Prime Minister, Hon Philip J Pierre and
the Government of Saint Lucia, since the people of Saint Lucia put us into service, on July 26th
,
2021.
According to the Department of Health, a total of 6,578 cases have been diagnosed in the country
from March 2020 up to the 17th August and 95 unfortunate deaths and on behalf of the government
of Saint Lucia, I again express our deepest sympathies to the families of the deceased.
To date, up to August 17, there are1025 active cases in the country.
As the Minister with responsibility for Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs, it is my responsibility
to ensure that the policies and actions of this new government are brought to bear on all aspects of
the general healthcare crisis in Saint Lucia, and over the last two weeks the following actions have
been taken or initiated to both stem the surge in the Covid- 19 cases and to strengthen the capacity
of our healthcare workers to provide care to those who have been affected. The following should
be noted:

  1. To reduce infection rates new protocols came into effect on August 13, 2021. I am advised
    that mass gatherings for social events are still taking place, and the leadership of the Royal
    Saint Lucia Police Force has reviewed the situation so that the owners and organizers of
    these events, some of them very well known, desist. The contact tracing information has
    demonstrated most of the current cases (in fact a large majority) have originated from very
    large social gatherings mainly in the North of Saint Lucia and the age range most affected
    is the 25 to 49 age range.
  2. The Victoria Respiratory Hospital:
    • Conditions at the Victoria Hospital are not acceptable. We are working with the
    manager and Dr. Eugene, who is responsible for the clinical operations at the
    hospital. Additional staff is being mobilized, improvements to the oxygen supply
    system, installation of better communication equipment, assessment of and
    improvement to the supply of medicines, and an attempt to seamlessly connect the
    Victoria Hospital to the isolation operations in the field.
    • Relatives of patients who are admitted to the Victoria Hospital speak of many gaps
    in the system which we must help the administrator and staff to fill and we are
    working to fill the gaps.
  3. Increase testing and contact tracing:
    • During the period January to March 2021 17,527 tests were done and between the
    period April to July 22,722 tests were done, an increase of 5200 tests. We encourage
    more Saint Lucians to get tested, we will increase the testing sites and are seeking
    support for additional supplies for testing. It is only when we test as many people
    as possible will we know the full impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic here in Saint
    Lucia. I am advised that the Ezra Long Lab now has the capacity to also increase
    the number of tests per day with the acquisition of new and advanced machines.
    • We are in the process of providing additional support to the contact tracing team
    and to the team which monitors patients in home isolation. Currently, we have only
    one doctor and 4 home isolation monitors for the whole of Saint Lucia. We will
    change this situation and make it better.
  4. Vaccination:
    • Our current vaccination rate stands at 14% of our total population of fully
    vaccinated individuals. Eighteen percent 18% of the population have taken the first
    shot. The Pfizer vaccine is now in Saint Lucia and the Department of Health will
    begin administering the Pfizer vaccine from Monday, August 23.
    • We have developed a vaccination plan which will involve the media and other
    influencers which we hope will encourage more Saint Lucians to take the vaccine
    especially the young. This campaign will encourage medical professionals to be at
    the forefront while using a variety of popular methods to carry the vital message of
    vaccination.
    • More vaccination sites will be made available to the public and the Ministry is
    exploring other arrangements, which will get the vaccines to communities across
    the length and breadth of Saint Lucia.
  5. The Command Centre:
    • The name of this body will change and it will reflect the national effort to stop the
    spread of the Covid-19 virus.
    • Members of the new body will reflect the technical and clinical nature of the Covid19 problem while also considering the social and employment impacts of the
    Pandemic. Details will be announced next week.
  6. Delta variant:
    • Fellow Saint Lucians the presence of the Delta variant in Saint Lucia means that
    we will have to be even more vigilant and measures to stem the spread of Covid
    19 will be more dynamic and more specific.
  7. Opening of School
    • Decisions in relation to the opening of school will be made after consultations
    among the relevant ministries and the Prime Minister take place. The projected
    conditions in the country by the date of school’s opening and the related medical
    advice will guide decisions in that regard. The public will be apprised of the
    situation within a reasonable time.
    Ladies and gentlemen, fellow Saint Lucians, the Prime minister Hon. Philip J Pierre has over the
    last two weeks led actions to provide the necessary support to the Ministry’s efforts and I thank
    him for his attention in this matter.
    Thanks to all of the healthcare workers and other frontline workers who continue to put their lives
    at risk in this crisis. Our government is working to improve the condition in which you work and
    will pay attention to your suggestions and needs.
    Thanks to the many citizens throughout Saint Lucia who have joined the efforts at educating
    members of their communities. Let us all continue to promote safe behaviors and actions which
    will bring an end to the spread the of Covid 19 virus within our communities.
  • . For more information please contact the Office of the Chief Medical Officer or the
    Epidemiology Unit, at 468-5309/468-5317 respectively

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