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Non-Essential Visits to Fire Stations Halted

Non-essential visits to fire stations across the country have been suspended until further notice according to a press release from the Saint Lucia Fire Service.

The Service said it was forced to take this action “due to the hazardous nature of the activities carried out at fire stations, combined with our officers being first responders to confirmed and suspected COVID-19 calls.”

‘We endeavouring to limit the possible risks of transmission between the public and our officers and vice versa,” noted the release in part, which went on to state that effective immediately no vending would be allowed on the premises, nor non-work related visitations or tours of fire appliances, equipment or station compounds.

“Persons who walk into a fire station to request emergency medical assistance or to report an emergency, should go directly to the control room window to make such a report. A facemask covering both the nose and mouth should be worn,” noted the Fire Service in its press release.

The Fire Service also reminded its Prevention Departments that they are required to wear a facemask covering both the nose and mouth.

“Everyone will be subjected to a temperature check before entry into the building, as well as mandatory hand sanitization. Automatic sanitization dispensers are strategically placed within the buildings for ease of access and use,” noted the Fire Service press release.

Fire Service Headquarters

Meanwhile the Ministry of Health and Wellness informs the general public that for persons travelling outside of Saint Lucia and requiring a PCR test for COVID-19 that such a test can be accessed at the Gros-Islet Polyclinic or the Vieux-Fort Wellness Centre. Swabbing for the PCR COVID-19 test will be available at the two centres on Mondays to Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The cost of the PCR test is US $100 or EC $267 to be paid at the Gros-Islet Polyclinic or the Vieux-Fort Wellness Centre.

Persons are also advised to walk with a valid form of identification (ID card) when accessing services at the Gros-Islet Polyclinic or the Vieux-Fort Wellness Centre. It is recommended that persons come in at least 3 days/ 72 hours before scheduled travel date.

All persons coming to conduct business at the Gros-Islet Polyclinic or the Vieux-Fort Wellness Centre must wear a mask before entering the facilities. All hands will be sanitized with an alcohol based solution. The Ministry of Health says it will continue to take the necessary measures to ensure the health and safety of all staff and patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Saint Lucia has to date recorded 27 cases of COVID-19. The latest case was recorded earlier this month, a 27-year-old male visitor who arrived in Saint Lucia on Sunday, September 6. However on the evening of Wednesday, September 9, 2020 the visitor was repatriated to the United States via private airline.

The Ministry said that on receipt of the notification from the Ezra Long Laboratory the confirmed case was immediately isolated and contact tracing commenced. The investigation consisted of interviews, contact tracing, screening and testing as required of possible contacts. These contacts included the passengers from the flight seated in proximity to the case (two rows in front and two rows to the back), port personnel, taxi driver, hotel employees and guests. The tests done in all contacts of the visitor thus far are all negative. Investigations and contact tracing by the health team at the hotel on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 have indicated that the transmission risk was low thus far.

According to the Ministry, adherence by the hotel’s management and staff to the recommended protocols resulted in low exposure during the limited period of the visitor’s stay.

A total of 7,391 tests have been conducted to date. As more sectors open and restrictions reduced, the public is advised to take personal responsibility to protect themselves and family.

“We continue to increase surveillance to reduce Administration risks such as illegal entry at borders, breaches to home quarantine, and non- adherence to protocols. We continue to, advise on the importance of maintaining the standard recommendations for infection prevention and control which include: – regular hand washing with soap and water or alcohol based hand sanitizer where soap and water is not available, cover mouth and nose with disposable tissues or clothing when coughing and sneezing. We appeal to everyone to continue supporting our national effort to minimize the threat of COVID-19 on our island,” noted the Ministry.

The Ministry further claimed that some of the measures in place which assisted in the early identification and management of the case included the following: Retesting at airport for all questionable test results; early identification and isolation of visitors with pending tests or positive tests; adherence with hotel protocols at all times and exhaustive contact tracing and testing by all possible contacts.

“The Ministry of Health and Wellness continues contact tracing to ensure that all possible contacts are screened and tested when necessary. We continue working closely with the hotel’s management to ensure that all measures are in place for disinfection and sanitization to reduce transmission to hotel workers and guests,” noted the Ministry in a release.

“The public is advised that protocols are still in place. These include the use of face masks in public and maintaining safe physical distance from others,” the Ministry said.

Micah George is an established name in the journalism landscape in St. Lucia. He started his journalism tutelage under the critical eye of the Star Newspaper Publisher and well known journalist, Rick Wayne, as a freelancer. A few months later he moved to the Voice Newspaper under the guidance of the paper’s recognized editor, Guy Ellis in 1988.

Since then he has remained with the Voice Newspaper, progressing from a cub reporter covering court cases and the police to a senior journalist with a focus on parliamentary issues, government and politics. Read full bio...

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