By Sharleene Lindsay
(St. Lucia News Online) — Prime Minister Allen Chastanet strongly believes that the cause of the recent rapid increase in COVID-19 cases on the island is not caused by tourists.
Speaking to reporters outside Parliament on Tuesday, Chastanet said persons coming through the “back door” — entering the island illegally — are responsible for spreading the coronavirus.
“We’ve had no cases of persons coming in, any tourist affecting St Lucians. Not one. So despite some of the attempts by persons to suggest that there was a front door and a back door. We got this through the backdoor. There is no argument about that,” he said.
As recent as Monday, Oct. 26, a Jamaican national, Granville Blake, 43, was charged for entering the island at an unauthorised port of entry and disembarking without the consent of an immigration officer.
The Jamaican was placed in a COVID-19 quarantine facility in Gros Islet after he was arrested on suspicion of entering St. Lucia illegally, Deputy Police Commissioner Milton Desir had told a press conference on Tuesday, Oct. 20.
The man entered St. Lucia four days prior to his arrest on Oct. 19, 2020 in Gros Islet after police acted on information that he gained entry illegally, police said.
Local fishers have always been warned since the pandemic broke out, about bringing persons through the backdoor. According to government officials, fishers recently agreed to help law enforcement in securing St. Lucia’s borders.
“Anyone caught undertaking human trafficking activities will have their fishing license suspended for a period of one year,” a press release from the Office of the Prime Minister stated.
Meantime, Saint Lucia authorities have intensified efforts to boost tourism, which according to news releases from the St. Lucia Tourism Authority has been successful.
The Authority reported that the island has welcomed over 16,000 visitors/tourists since early July.