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UWP Says: SLP Must Act Now to Address COVID-19 Crisis and Preserve Lives

7 September 2021

The following statement was issued today by the opposition United Workers Party:

Every day the number of active cases and death toll rises, causing unnecessary pain and suffering to the people of Saint Lucia. This situation is unacceptable and unsustainable and it is clear our worst fears are now upon us: the health care system is completely overwhelmed and in particular all of our frontline workers.

Our country is facing a situation where people are not getting access to proper care, in particular, those who have tested positive for COVID are given no choice but to remain in their home with access to little or no care. By now the National Emergency Management protocols should have been adjusted and a clear plan mapped out to address this major outbreak before Saint Lucia reaches the point of no return. The COVID-19 Command Centre and the Information arm of the Government for COVID-19 should be in full effect with regular updates to the people of Saint Lucia. The nation’s Chief Medical Officer and her team, who have successfully managed an outbreak in the past, should be receiving the full support of the Government of Saint Lucia.

Instead the current administration, who should have anticipated an upturn in cases due to the increased activities during the election and the introduction of the Delta variant, has been irresponsible and careless at a time when our country needs critical leadership. Immediately after the election on July 26th the country needed to implement the same protocols that were successfully used in the last eighteen months. We were able to slow down and temper the past outbreaks, instead the present administration has procrastinated and been consumed by petty politics. These irresponsible actions by the Government have now jeopardized the delicate equilibrium between lives and livelihoods which the former UWP Administration had maintained since April 2020.

The United Workers Party is calling for urgent decisive action to reduce the Covid-19 infection rate and death rate and bring Saint Lucia back to a state of stability.

“The Government has to treat this health crisis as an national emergency and act with urgency; reinstate isolation and quarantine facilities and closely monitor COVID-19 positive cases,” said Leader of the Opposition Honourable Allen Chastanet. “We are capable of bringing the numbers down but it means tough decisions have to be made to address the spread and save lives. We have to fully support our frontliners and with the arrival of new vaccines, we need to step up our efforts to get persons vaccinated. This is not the time for complacent leadership or the continued emphasis on the “political science”.

The UWP also advises that the Government should now rethink its economic policies and urgently prepare for the imminent financial crisis that is now looming over our country.

“As our cases rise and more draconian protocols will have to be implemented this will impact our economy, our workforce, social and essential services and government revenues,” stated the former Finance Minister. “During our time in office even while facing the pandemic we met all our increased financial commitments, debt obligations, government operating cost and continued to pay public sector employees. We were also very upfront and transparent about the fact that this was a feat in itself, given the loss of $50 million a month in revenues and with costs increasing by the $30 million a month. We repeatedly stressed the precarious state of the country’s finances and we implemented polices to successfully handle this unprecedented dual crisis.”

The UWP recalls that instead of appreciating this fact the SLP in opposition demonized the then government’s policies and went on to promise $1500 a month per person in income support to the unemployed and to increase the tax-free threshold to $4000 per month.

The former Prime Minister, very early in the Pandemic coined the term “co-existing with COVID” and implemented well designed protocols, invested in establishing a respiratory hospital, used hotels to house quarantine and isolation patients. The Government supported the CMO, the frontliners, and the private sector to manage the outbreak. The previous Government emphasized the need to maintain an equilibrium between lives and livelihoods, as such it adopted separate policies for different segments of our society and economy. The then Government introduced 758/759 zones, the Tourism Bubble, fast tracked capital projects, established a COVID Act and maintained the SOE all of which were severely criticized by the then Opposition.

The UWP urges the Government to act responsibly and decisively to secure the finances of the country, and avoid the prospect where Saint Lucia is unable to meet its debt commitments, as the damage this will cause will certainly have sever fiscal repercussions causing further hardship to a country and its citizens that is already reeling from the current health crisis.

The United Workers Party calls on the Government to act now to reduce the current unsustainable trajectory of the COVID-19 cases before it kills more Saint Lucians. The UWP also extends heartfelt prayers and condolences to all the family and friends to Saint Lucians who have lost loved ones to this pandemic.

Our Party fully endorses the vaccination drive of the Ministry of Health and calls on all Saint Lucians to educate themselves about the benefits of getting vaccinated and the post COVID syndrome. Now is not the time to play the blame game, we have to much at stake and we are all in this together and we must work as one, remember COVID does not discriminate.

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