‘Foolhardy and dangerous’: St Lucia warned against phased reopening amid COVID-19 pandemic

Allen Chastanet
St Lucian Prime Minister Allen Chastanet hopes to announce a phased opening of the country at month-end.

The St Lucia Medical and Dental Association (SLMDA) is cautioning the government against any “phased reopening” of commercial activity, stressing that the country was “not out of the woods yet” with regards to COVID-19.

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, in an April 12 address to the nation, said his government hoped to announce a phased reopening of commercial activities at month-end, once the country was able to contain community transmission of COVID-19.

But SLMDA public relations officer Dr Monique Monplaisir said in a statement Monday that the country was “far” from being ready for a phased reopening. The SLMDA compared this to someone deciding to stop taking prescribed antibiotics early because they were feeling better.

Dr Monique Monplaisir .

The association described that as a foolhardy and dangerous “practice” and urged authorities to look at Japan, and Singapore to a certain extent, as examples of how premature reopening could be a bad move. “They were successful at flattening the curve; however, they have seen a surge of positive cases now because they reopened too quickly,” Monplaisir noted.

The SLMDA said it strongly believed that, because of the limitations of St. Lucia’s in-country testing, even a phased reopening of commercial activity would potentially put everyone at risk.

In providing an update of the COVID-19 situation on Monday, Chief Medical officer Dr Belmar George said that as of April 20, there were 15 confirmed cases. Of those, 13 persons have recovered and were discharged from hospital care, including two who were repatriated to the United Kingdom earlier this month. There are two positive cases in isolation at the island’s respiratory hospital. The last confirmed case was reported on Friday, April 10. Since then, 58 tests have been done and all have been negative.