Letters & Opinion

COVID 19 – Precaution is Better Than Cure

By James Stanislaus

Listening to some folks who should know better taking the government to task regarding the protocols and ultimate relaxation of our curfew and borders makes one rather suspicious of their views.   The world is a global village and this coronavirus has exhibited this understanding.  Have we not come to terms with the reality that the whole world was virtually shut down?  Yes, the whole world, yet some academics get on the St Lucia airwaves playing with words which are meaningless.  The World Health Organization responsible for coordinating the course of the virus then transmits its instructions via each and every Ministry of Health for adoption, hence the reason for all nations having to report the statistics of the epidemic on a daily basis.  Any nation failing to report the truth or falsifying the situation will pay a hefty price.  The protocols in place are followed closely by all nations except the United States which has recently and unilaterally decided to pull away from the organization.  Today, we simply have to revisit the results to understand the importance of the WHO as the virus has escalated in five states, but the US has the finances and political clout to address its failures.   WE DO NOT.

Take Barbados as an example, an island fully reliant on tourism having to follow the same rules as St. Lucia and all others and having to deal with a sluggish economy like the rest of the world.  Barbadians do not like the measures, neither do we St. Lucians, but the medication is better than the cure.  Our PM more than anyone else would love to see the economy revert to its glorious days, but in life, there is something known as living in a world of fantasy to our own creating and this is not sustainable.  St. Lucia is a nation riddled with diabetes and hypertension which is the number one pre-existing condition for fatality once the virus strikes.  This disease has the ability to spread like wildfire as indicated by most scientists. Here are some examples and I quote, South Korea which was at zero then went into high gear by one person infecting a small group at a party. Germany the same. Closer to home in Jamaica the same pattern followed causing the nation’s cases to jump significantly, but more importantly, just ten days ago some 16 persons tested positive on one flight, causing confusion within the government.  Today’s breaking news reveals that Novak Djokovic the number one tennis player in the world ignored the advice of the WHO rep in his country Serbia, organized a small tournament with several top tennis players and today all members are infected including his wife.  These are the hard facts of the virus that all St. Lucians need to understand. Our Prime Minister has a serious responsibility and cannot go against his CMO who has all the facts. What difference will it make to one’s life in St. Lucia by staying at home after mid-night, when we all know that it is during those early morning parties people become irresponsible.  The Opposition recently took the Government to task comparing the decision by the Antigua authorities to open their borders to US visitors which has resulted in 39 positive coronavirus cases within ten days.  Who is right and who is wrong?

In the hands of the CMO and her team lie our lives, I call upon all St. Lucians to visit the internet and compare the condition of a person’s lungs before and after the virus takes its toll.  Personally, I have been privy to the condition and let me say how frightening it was.  Our economy will return and survive, our lungs will not, but there are no overnight miracles at this time.   The current administration has done a reasonable job in balancing our health verses the economy under these trying circumstances.  In life, some individuals will always perform better than others, but this is a formula which applies to everything we do in this world and that is the reality.

The old saying that a man convinced against his will, remains of the same opinion still will never change and so does reality.  In the absence of our tourism product a growing industry is on the rise.  The call center trade today in St. Lucia registers some 4,000 employees and in the south alongside Ojoe Labs with some 350 employees and another call center has emerged with some 300 new jobs in the next 14 days bringing our total number to 4,500 employees.  The new St. Jude’s Hospital earmarked to complete Nov / Dec 2020 employs 300 construction workers.  The new Wasco in the south presently under construction, has started with 30 workers and within sixty days the total will be 75.  The airport terminal set to employ some 1,500 construction workers is now in its preliminary stage with some 100 workers. The various road works currently under construction has absorbed close to 750 workers.  The Millennium Highway though long overdue based on a gift of 120 million EC dollars, from the UK Government is presently in its final stages where several hundred persons will be employed.

The Saltibus road in Choiseul which has been left unattended for over 30 years, is receiving a complete makeover equivalent to the Vieux Fort / Castries Highway.  Japanese engineers are presently on island to commence the longest and widest bridge in St. Lucia within the Cul De Sac Valley to the tune of 45 million US dollars, fifty percent represents a gift from the Japanese Government and the balance to be paid by the state.  This bridge will virtually transform the Cul De Sac Valley by way of enlarging the height and width for the flow of water within the existing river, but more importantly extending a roadway parallel to the existing roadway inclusive of a modern round about encompassing both the Vieux Fort and Soufriere intersections.

These are the projects which keep the island ticking as the Prime Minister and his medical team remain in constant touch with the WHO in an effort to pave the way for a smooth and safe reopening for our international visitors.

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