Many would be quick to opine that Saint Lucia started celebrating its Covid-19 free status way too soon. With this week’s announcement of two new cases on island, they wouldn’t be too far off the mark.
However, what was announced regarding the island being Covid-free was the truth as far as testing results were indicating at the time – there were no active cases of Covid-19 on the island. This meant that every patient had been discharged and had received negative test results prior to being discharged from hospital.
As soon as it was announced, news of Saint Lucia ‘getting rid’ of the dreaded coronavirus spread fast, with citizens of nearby islands like Dominica professing that their island was right behind Saint Lucia in that regard.
With the announcement, Saint Lucians who were already (in their minds at least) returning to a state of normalcy got even more comfortable and casual about the island and the world’s state of affairs, so much so that some seemed to forget rules about no congregating. In some areas, basketball and other sporting enthusiasts who felt as though they’d been off the courts or inactive for too long made their way back to courts and playing fields. It was clear that most were still hesitant, but some used the ‘stolen’ time to break a sweat. In other places, seemingly war raged women and apparent cave men made their way to small barber shops and packed hair salons. In the case of the latter, most wore masks, but as has become a trend here and elsewhere in the Caribbean, those masks were quickly left to hang beneath their chins.
As a result of what was seen over the past few days, and even the freedom-seeking incidents not mentioned, it would be safe to say many are tired of this locked down state of affairs, as necessary as it may be.
In other parts of the world, talk of opening up businesses and borders is intensifying. Among the most recent was the announcement of specific businesses that would resume operations in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States. These included hair salons, barbershops, bowling alleys, and the like. There were mixed reviews on the decision, but among the most vocal registering disapproval of the move was comedian, businessman, and entertainer Steve Harvey. Harvey said he was most perplexed about the choice of businesses to open up first, as all required up close and personal interaction, which went against social distancing orders. He did all but suggest that to open these businesses was a trap that black people should not fall for; and urged his community to stay at home and not be guinea pigs.
Locally, the Saint Lucia Chamber of Commerce conducted a Covid-19 survey which showed the percentage of businesses which remained closed as a result of the pandemic, and those which were closed only because of the shut down. The results of the survey conducted between April 6-15, 2020 showed that of the 30 percent of Chamber membership which responded, 52 percent were still operational amid the global pandemic. Of those not operational, 40 percent reported that it was as a result of Covid-19, while the remaining 60 percent said they were not operational due to the shutdown. The survey also touched on other relevant areas to measure the impact of Covid-19 on businesses, at a time when it seems most critical that all countries start preparing to return to business as usual, even in a Covid-19 contaminated world.
The idea of navigating in this very changed environment, with moderate to high likelihood of catching the deadly virus that has stilled the world is a lot scarier than most would want to imagine, but it seems close to becoming a reality. Ahead of a vaccine being released, staying at home might become the norm for the elderly and more vulnerable populations if the rest of the world, our little island included, is not able to get this virus under control before returning to that ‘normalcy’ that we all so desperately crave.