SLP head gives suggestions to St Lucia govt for fight crises

Philip J. Pierre
Philip J. Pierre

St Lucia: In his address to the nation on 28th January 2021, Philip J. Pierre, head of Saint Lucia Labour Party, repeated and laid out recommendations to the Government for dealing with the ongoing national crises. As of January 28th, Saint Lucia recorded 13 deaths and had a total of 1106 in the country reported cases, with 752 new cases recorded for the month of January alone. In his address, the Leader presented a seven-point Rescue Plan to confront the COVID-19 Pandemic:

1. Expand Testing and Tracing; licensing private labs to conduct COVID-19 tests and introduce a secure online test results portal.

2. Expand Treatment Capacity; establishment of an isolation facility in the south of the island.

– An additional facility in the north to ensure that persons who cannot safely isolate at home are not turned away as is currently being done.

– Allow persons who can isolate themselves at home to do so, electronically tagging them to monitor their whereabouts.

3. Rethink Travel and Tourism Measures: The Government should exercise the option of closing the borders to travelers from the U.K. and the U.S. until the outbreak is brought under control.

A mandatory PCR test is done within 1-3 days of travel. Our current window of allowing a test as old a 7-days to be valid for travel is too risky.

All travelers must use an approved contact tracing and location monitoring app.

4. Revise the Partial Shutdown: There must be immediate widespread rapid-antigen testing for businesses and institutions where clusters have appeared. Particular attention should be paid to hotels and call centers. Such a testing regime should require each staff member to take two viral tests within three days;

-Commercial activity should be allowed to operate once they are not in breach of protocols. However, this must be accompanied by heightened monitoring, surveillance, and enforcement of protocols within the commercial sector;

-Based on the characteristics of the outbreaks and the length of time it will take to reduce the transmission rate to below 5 cases per week, it is likely that these measures will be required for at least eight weeks. As such, Government should prepare accordingly and extend the partial shutdown of ten days by two additional weeks.

-A core of health aides should be used to boost community-wide testing in town centers and recreation areas like beaches.

5. Protect our Education Sector: keep schools closed until the length of time it will take to reduce the transmission rate to below 5 cases per week over two weeks or when tests are readily available at our schools.

– Ensure that all teachers and students have the necessary technology to enable online learning during that period.

– Resume the National WI FI Programme, which was supported by the Republic of China (Taiwan), again callously stopped by the Government so that children can access the internet from their homes.

– Many children depended on the School Feeding Programme, provide food vouchers or grants to the parents in need.

6. Quickly Implement a Vaccination Programme: We need to immunize our population as quickly as possible. We believe that a suitably resourced vaccination program should aim to have 75% of our people at the earliest. This vaccination program should be voluntary and should be accompanied by an education campaign.

7. Implement an Economic and Social Relief Programme: The Government must bring forward a second income support program for the next three to six months and support to SMEs in the form of grants, not only loans. We estimated that it would cost in the region of $120M in the next year.

$45 million is for income support and SME assistance.

$20 million for support for our education system,

$55 million for health-related spending, including testing and vaccination.

These interventions we believe are necessary to ensure we can protect lives while supporting livelihoods.

“Unfortunately, this Government has lost the trust of the people.” Hon. Pierre stated. He went on to say that “To rebuild this trust, I recommend the country establishes a non-governmental COVID-19 Scientific, Technical & Research Group made up of a multidisciplinary cross-section of Saint Lucians to provide open and independent guidance to provide ongoing COVID-19 responses as the situation demands.”

He closed his remarks by stating the following, “I have no doubt that the Saint Lucian people will do what is necessary to crush COVID. We will wear our masks; we will practice physical distancing and wash or sanitize our hands regularly. We will self-quarantine if we have symptoms and remember to be our brother’s keeper. And because we are a resilient people, we will overcome in spite of the mistreatment and false claims that we, the people of Saint Lucia, are the problem.

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