What you need to know about COVID-19 in St Lucia

St Lucia, to date, has no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.

However, the virus, which causes a respiratory illness called COVID-19, has spread to at least 114 countries and territories on six continents in the span of less than 3 months.

Given the rapid spread of the virus it is important to stay aware of the latest developments happening in the island as it relates to COVID-19.

What is the current situation in St Lucia?

Approximately $700,000 has been allocated to the Ministry of Health and Wellness to bolster the island’s preparedness for COVID-19.

Equipment to test for the virus is in the island but, local testing has not yet begun.

Local testing for COVID-19 is expected to begin the week of March 23, after the necessary staff are trained.

More health care workers have been placed at ports of entry.

11 people are in quarantine, as per the island’s protocols in response to the pandemic.

A nurse is in isolation, despite showing no symptoms of COVID-19. However, the ministry said that they are being extra cautious, as her travel history shows that she had visited New Jersey. New Jersey has over 20 confirmed cases of the virus.

The island’s two closest neighbours, Martinque and St Vincent and the Grenadines, 81 km and 74 km away from St Lucia respectively, have both reported confirmed cases of the virus.

Several events, including Taste of St Lucia, are being rescheduled as a result of the pandemic.

Several cruise ships have been denied entry into St Lucia,as several aboard these vessels have reported flu-like symptoms. 

Local school leaders have already been sensitized about the virus through a series of sessions. Though there no current plans to close schools, The Ministry of Education said at a press conference on Wednesday that they reserve the right to take such action should the need arise. 

How do I protect myself?

Public health officials have said that there is no reason to wear a mask if you are well. So far, there is little evidence showing that wearing a mask in public prevents healthy people from becoming infected.

The general public does should avoid crowds at this time.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness has advised that people take the following measures to reduce the risk:

Clean your hands frequently with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Stay at home if you are sick.Cover your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze.

If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm.

What should I do if I have symptoms?

The ministry further recommends people with mild symptoms call them or their health care provider.

It is recommended that individuals with symptoms call the hospital or health care provider first before going in-person.

Also those with symptoms can visit the hospital emergency department.