The Success Story of a Caribbean Island in Fighting Covid
The Caribbean island of St. Lucia got some good news amid the Covid 19 pandemic that’s been sweeping the whole world: the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention has put the nation on the “No Health Warning” list.
“The key here is confidence,” said St. Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet. “Confidence of my nationals; confidence of the persons who work with us and then confidence of the persons who are coming down here on vacation. That’s where you have to start: How do we gain that confidence?”
St. Lucia, which has endured over $220 million in revenue losses after temporarily shutting down its airspace to visitors on March 23 before reopening in June, stands as the exception rather than the norm in a vast sea of increasing COVID-19 infections sweeping the Caribbean.
Three months after the tourism-dependent region began reopening borders to foreign visitors, a growing number of Caribbean islands are seeing drastic spikes in coronavirus infections and transmission of the disease into new communities. Yet, only three percent of all the outbreaks were related to incoming travelers.
The climbing numbers in the Caribbean come as the Americas region, which includes the United States, Mexico and Canada, recently marked nearly 15 million cases and more than a half million deaths, according to the Pan American Health Organization.
But with most countries struggling to contain the spread, an increasing number of Caribbean leaders, led by Chastanet, are advocating not only for pre-departure testing but arguing that it should be mandatory for all travelers to help bolster efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“If we didn’t have to coexist with COVID, we would just stay on lockdown,” said Chastanet. “You can protect a country as much as you want from a health perspective, but given the nature of an island, and our dependence on international trade, you couldn’t stay on lockdown forever and we still don’t have the financial resources to do so.”
Although the alarming spikes have coincided with the reopening of borders, some Caribbean leaders insist visitors are not to be blamed for the increases. The culprits, they say, are locals who are flouting the rules to wear masks and avoid large gatherings.
Source: The Miami Herald