ACCORDING to Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, the disobedience of certain Saint Lucians has placed additional pressure on authorities in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. This pressure, along with the trend of events unfolding abroad, has led to the declaration of a national State of Emergency.
Although Dr Michelle Francois, National Epidemiologist, stated at the National Media COVID-19 seminar held on 12th March, that persons could be quarantined at home providing their homes contained the capacity for such, the Prime Minister said on Monday that persons will now be quarantined at a public health facility. This decision came after persons in quarantine at the Rodney Bay Public Health Facility absconded from the facility last weekend. The Prime Minister said this was a clear indication that others may not comply with the requirements of quarantine.
“Sadly for us, despite the fact that these individuals were told that they would be quarantined, the disobedience that ensued put even more pressure on us, so we ended up having to put more nurses into that operation than we had planned, and more importantly we had to put more policemen up in that area. In fact, the SSU eventually had to be called in at the same time,” Chastanet said. He stated further that all Saint Lucians returning home would be placed in automatic quarantine.
Chastanet went on, “For the safety of everyone concerned, we made a decision that whoever should be quarantined would be quarantined in a facility in which we could provide the proper supervision.”
A nationwide curfew from 11pm to 5am has also been imposed under the current State of Emergency to further encourage social distancing which is being promoted as a preventative measure against the potential spread of COVID-19. The Prime Minister said that anyone who violates the curfew will be arrested. The State of Emergency was declared by Saint Lucia’s Governor General, Sir Emmanuel Neville Cenac.
Stephenson King, Minister of Infrastructure, Ports, Energy and Labour, also stated earlier this week that it was the bad attitude of some Saint Lucians which was to blame for the State of Emergency declared.
“I believe at this time we need to take all precautionary measures and to a great extent, tighten those measures to ensure that our people are safe,” King said.
He later intimated, “It may seem to be overkill by introducing a State of Emergency, but it is probably necessary to keep people in line and to understand that we are talking about serious business, it is a matter of life and death.”