Saint Lucia started 2022 with a new COVID-19 wave – and a plea by the Chairman of the National COVID-19 Management Center for citizens to do more to show they love themselves, their family and friends.
In his latest bulletin circulated online on December 28 entitled “The Fifth COVID Wave Has Begun”, Chairman Cletus Springer acknowledged that “all key indicators point to the start of a Fifth Wave of COVID-19 in Saint Lucia.”
Not surprisingly, the Fifth Wave came in much the same way as the 3rd in January 2021 following Christmas and New Year holiday activities.
The Fourth Wave officially started on July 25, 2021 following the 2021 General Elections campaign.
The last two waves followed protocol violations at several levels, including breaches of quarantine regulations and illegal entry by returning nationals during the 2020 Christmas and New Year holiday season.
Also contributing to the increases in positive cases were breaches by persons in Home Quarantine, holiday parties and Mass Crowd gatherings.
The Prime Minister had only just carefully commended Saint Lucians for obeying the protocols, following a significant reduction in the infection rate, when the arrival of the Omicron variant was announced in South Africa. Springer and Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Sharon Belmar Georges both say all signs are that the Omicron variant may very-well be on island. The fifth COVID wave has registered its presence through a rapid increase in the number of cases, with a warning by Springer that the island may not have sufficient beds to care for the expected increase in hospitalization.
He went on to explain, “Even though our Respiratory Hospital has 130 beds, based on current staffing availability, we know that only about 30 patients can be adequately cared for at a time.”
And “While early indications are that Omicron may be milder than Delta,” he adds, “the more people who catch it, the greater the likelihood more people will end up in hospital.”
“On top of all of that,” he further added, “Delta is still not done with us…”
According to Springer, “The major concern has been and will continue to be keeping the number of people who will require care at the hospital to a level where hospital staff can cope.”
“At this point,” he says, “after two years of intense stress, the issue is no longer solely about the number of patients who require care.”
Instead, he points out, “It’s about the number of frontline staff who will require care because of burnout and mental illness.”
The overwhelming effects of Delta and Omicron have been evident in both the UK and the USA this past week, both countries recording record numbers of new daily cases ranging between 130,000 and 250,000, respectively.
The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has also reported opening 2022 with record numbers of frontline health workers affected by Delta and Omicron, while the US is deploying military doctors to state hospitals to help keep-up with demands for Intensive and Emergency Care as numbers of hospitalizations continue to rise.
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 management team’s Chair says: “The rate of transmission has increased from 0.8 to 1.9 — meaning that every infected person now infects nearly two others.”
The number of Active Cases has also nearly-doubled since the last week of 2021, while the Positivity Rate (the average percentage of all COVID-19 tests performed that registered positive) has risen from 3% to 7%.
According to Springer, “The average Daily Infection Rate—which tells us how actively the virus is spreading — has almost quadrupled from 3% to 11.6%”, which means that “Every day, nearly four times as many people are getting infected with COVID-19.”
True to Springer’s prediction, the first days of January have already started showing the results of protocol violations over the 2021 Christmas holidays. Springer further predicts that “by mid-January, we will see the true impact of New Year’s Day activities.”
But with Omicron bearing bad news from the world over and more people everywhere seeming to finally start taking the latest variant seriously, Chairman Springer still hangs on to high hopes that Saint Lucians will do in 2022 what they’ve so far failed or refused to since the pandemic was declared in March 2020.
He ended his bulletin saying “It’s all up to us…”
Springer is confident that “We can easily make curfews and home confinement things of the past.”
“All we need to do is show that we care for ourselves, our loved ones and our country,” says Mr Chairman. (ends)