Prime Minister and Finance Minister the Honorable Philip J Pierre once again criticized the former UWP administration led by Allen Chastanet, saying it had borrowed heavily under the pretext of offering COVID-19 relief to Saint Lucians , while implicating their health problems and, by extension, their lives, on the back burner.
In an address to the nation on Wednesday night that preceded a statement by Minister of Health, the Honorable Moses Jn Baptiste, in which the Minister of Health outlined more stringent COVID-19 protocols to take effect on October 1, 2021 Prime Minister Pierre said he remains very concerned about the rising level of COVID-19 infections and the resulting deaths in Saint Lucia.
Expressing condolences to the many families who have lost loved ones the spread of the Delta variant, the Prime Minister lamented, with its dramatically increased rate of transmission around the world, and the Caribbean had not spared Saint Lucia.
“Both rich and poor countries are experiencing increasing infection rates. Some countries have returned to higher levels of infection and death than the same period last year. In Saint Lucia, we had to face this global trend with much less financial resources, ”noted Pierre.
He said it was a known fact that the UWP administration borrowed heavily, apparently to deal with the problems stemming from COVID-19.
He revealed that around four loans from various financing institutions, including the Caribbean Development Bank (CBD), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Quick Credit Facility and others in the amount of (323.8 M) were borrowed under the pretext of offering COVID-19 relief in Saint Luciens.
Pierre said that instead of doing this, the majority of the funds, around $ 20 million, were not used for health-related issues but rather for capital projects, debt repayment and assistance. re-liquidity, including the payment of salaries.
“Be clear, the 301 million loans were used between 2020 and May 2021. My administration only had access to $ 20 of these borrowed funds to be used on behalf of the people of Saint Lucia,” said Rock.
Hitting critics who claim the current Labor Party of Saint Lucia (SLP) has taken a relaxed approach to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic that has raged on the island, recording some 155 deaths as of Wednesday, September 29, 2021 Pierre has said since taking office, given the severity of the COVID-19 crisis and its effects on lives and livelihoods, his administration has taken strategic steps to tackle the pandemic.
Among the measures instituted, he noted measures to protect the health of police officers by adding a ticketing option to the measures for implementing the COVID-19 protocols; Increase in medical and auxiliary staff at Victoria Hospital; Improved communication systems to allow easier contact between both medical staff and members of the public; Reinforcement of the home surveillance team with plans for even greater reinforcements in the near future; the near doubling of COVID-19 tests on the island; Increased availability and access to vaccines through the Ministry of Health; Increased public education on immunization and government insistence on maintaining close contact with all medical stakeholders, including the Saint Lucia Medical and Dental Association (SLMDA).
“In order to enhance dialogue and create inclusion, the government has, through legislation, created the National COVID-19 Management Center to ensure the participation of a wide range of society in the fight against COVID . More importantly, the government has insisted that all decisions regarding efforts to alleviate the COVID-19 crisis are evidence-based, expert medical advice, and approved by the chief medical officer. ”
Pierre said that although they have been shown to be effective, common risk mitigation measures such as hand sanitizing, mask wearing and social distancing will not be enough if Saint Lucia were to win the war against COVID- 19.
Based on science and advice from health experts around the world, Prime Minister Pierre again reiterated the need for more Saint Lucians to get vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity.
As of September 29, 2021, a total of 35,845 people had received the first dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and 29,574 had received the second dose. 9,706 had received the first dose of Pfizer vaccine and 2,440 had received their second dose.
Saint Lucia has recorded 11,459 cases of COVID-19, of which 155 have succumbed to the deadly virus.