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Reports are that the officials at the airport were planning a protest on Saturday since there were no medical team in place to deal with an international flight that had African nationals, who could be possible Ebola victims.
President of the Civil Service Association (CSA) Mary Isaac told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) today, September 1, that medical personnel were available for the first international flight on Saturday and this continued throughout the weekend.
Isaac noted that while it was a good move made by the ministry, she asserted that systems in this regard, should have been in place much longer.
“I think that is how St. Lucians operate: unless there is some real pressure exerted they don’t really put things in place. But, I believe that things are being put in place,” she added.
The CSA president said a full-fledge team is not yet in place and plans are now being made by the ministry to strengthen the team that has been there at St. Lucia’s main port of entry.
“Some people are saying that some international flights in transit here ought not to be an issue. But there is a concern there. You cannot depend on another country’s in-transit arrangement unless you have been told exactly what it is, for you not to put yours in place,” she explained.
She has also called on the government to activate a team at the George F.L. Charles Airport.
Isaac said during her meeting with customs officials last week, it was brought to her attention how these officials are handling this matter carefully, especially when dealing with the documentation of people from West Africa.
Isaac said this shows that these customs officials are not only concerned about their personal well-being, but they are also thinking about their country. “This is commendable…they are taking their job serious and we ought to take it serious too,” she stated.
Isaac referred to the case where Senegal has placed 20 people under surveillance after being exposed to Ebola from a college student, who entered from Guinea, saying that should also be a concern for St. Lucia, especially since African nationals come here to study.
“This is something we are not taking seriously enough, when we have so many students coming from Africa to medical universities here. So we have to be very careful, it’s not a matter of spreading propaganda, but the health authorities had so much time to put something in place and they have not put anything in place. We need to work fast,” she explained.
Efforts to contact Chief Medical Officer Dr. Merlene Fredericks proved futile.
The Ebola outbreak “continues to accelerate” in West Africa and has killed 1,552 people, the World Health Organization said Thursday.