Health authorities urge caution as St. Lucia deals with the impact of the fourth COVID-19 wave

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CASTRIES, St. Lucia–Health authorities say while St. Lucia has reached a ‘slow rate of decline” in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, an increase in social activities over the past few weeks is contributing to increased issues on the island.

In an update report on the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Health, Wellness, and Elderly Affairs said since July 25, the country has recorded 7,208 COVID-19) cases at an average of 69 patients daily.

“At present, we have 309 active cases in the country. The majority of the cases are from the Castries, Gros- Islet, Vieux-Fort and Babonneau districts. The daily infection rate for the past week was 11.5 per 100,000 per day, which is a four percent decrease from the previous week,” the ministry said.

“We note that we have reached a slow rate of decline at this point,” the ministry said, also noting that it is managing a COVID-19 outbreak at the Bordelais Correctional Facility where there are  27 inmates have been admitted to the Respiratory Hospital, with one in critical condition and seven severely ill.

“During the fourth wave, Sr. Lucia recorded 170 COVID-19 deaths out of a total of 260 COVID- 19 deaths, with a case fatality rate of 2.4 percent. Males account for 56 percent of the deaths,” the ministry said.

It said that while the island has at present 309 active cases, this is above the required threshold indicator of 100 or fewer points targeted.

“Based on the forecast and anticipated trends, this should have been reached a week ago. Over the last three weeks, we note the increase in social activities and large crowd activities contributing to increased cases. We need to sustain the gains achieved in the management of the fourth wave in light of the increased transmissibility of the Delta Variant circulating.”

The ministry said it recommends a gradual transition into the high-risk services to ensure they are implemented sustainably.

“We are working to prevent further spikes during the festive season. Therefore, we ask the public to work with us and exhibit responsible behavior to ensure our recorded COVID-19 numbers remain low. We are also working to ensure the sustainable re-opening of school for students.”

The authorities said that they are making available free of charge both the Pfizer and Astra Zeneca vaccine, adding, “these vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective in protecting persons from developing COVID-19, its severe forms, complications, hospitalizations, and death”.

They said that the booster Pfizer vaccine is also available for persons who have had both doses of the Astra Zeneca for over three to six months and are urging parents to vaccinate their children from 12 years and older.

Health, Wellness, and Elderly Affairs Minister Moses Jn Baptiste said he hopes that adjusted COVID-19 protocols announced last week would not contribute to citizens becoming much laxer in their guard.

“The evidence suggests that St. Lucians by and large in the majority have followed the protocols over the last few weeks, and St. Lucians generally are working harder to keep themselves from getting infected by COVID,” Jn Baptiste told reporters.

“The changes in the protocols suggest that we believe St. Lucians are even more aware now of the impact of COVID-19, and we believe St. Lucians will take precautions. We hope that these protocols, the changes in the protocols don’t mean that St. Lucians will suddenly change their behaviors.

“We see some very positive signs over the past few weeks, and we are hoping that the changes don’t encourage St. Lucians to go back to the mass crowds and so on,” he added.

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