Below is a full statement from the Opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party’s Parliamentary Representative for Castries South, Dr. Ernest Hilaire. The statement was posted on his Facebook page on Thursday, April 16, 2020.
We are all familiar with the game of Russian roulette. It is probably the highest stakes game you can ever play. A bullet is placed in the cylinder of a revolver, closed and spun. A bet is made and the revolver is placed to the head. No one knows if the bullet is lined up. The trigger is pressed. You are either dead or you win. And you win big.
Pardon my analogy but I have been thinking about the decision by the Cabinet of Ministers to commence phasing the reopening of our economy. I witnessed the scenes, saw photos and videos of Saint Lucians out and about for the last couple of days.
This carefree attitude was no doubt fueled by the Prime Minister’s contradictory attitude in his last television broadcast. The CMO was very clear to me. I understood her to be saying that we are still in a critical stage that we should not drop our guard, we are still under threat and we need to continue the fight against the virus. The Prime Minister seemed on a completely different trajectory.
I understood him to be saying that he has seen the information from the Ministry and that it is time to start returning to normal beginning with the reopening of hardware and household supplies stores. Forget the usual cynicism of Saint Lucians when he mentioned S&S, after all, they had just donated $100,000 to front-line workers.
The PM went on to say that a Committee would be set up to oversee the phased re-opening of our economy. I sat thinking did we not learn anything from our experiences over the last few days. I posted on my page that we had started the reopening. Nothing more. I knew what was to follow. I know my Saint Lucian people.
We all agree that we cannot sit in the economic doldrums ad infinitum. The economy will be depressed too badly. No one wants that and certainly not political aspirants patiently waiting for this uninvited crisis to end. We need to plan for the reopening but surely it cannot be at the risk of lives, Saint Lucian lives.
The entire world is anxious to return to normal and we watch and listen to debates on just when will be appropriate, and most importantly, safe to do so. Leaders are being begged to err on the side of caution. Experts are warning that premature reopening and lessening of strict controls are risky and a possible resurgence of coronavirus can be more deadly. In the US, governors across the US are emphasizing that science, not politics should determine when to reopen the economy. PAHO is warning that the worse is yet to come for the Caribbean.
What is the science telling us about the situation in Saint Lucia? We heard the latest reports about how many persons have recovered etc but is anyone telling us how many persons are being tested? How many persons are reporting to the respiratory clinics? How are we flushing out persons who are NOT reporting to clinics because their symptoms are mild? Maybe someone is analysing such data and I expect it to be the health officials. Which is why the words of the CMO ring in my head that we are still at a critical stage. Not that of the Prime Minister who seemed driven more by a desire to gamble, to take chances.
So the Cabinet of Ministers have decided to start reopening the economy. It can be an empty chamber and it pays off for the Government. But what if it is the loaded chamber. Boom! Death.
Why play Russian roulette with our lives? Someone, please tell me.