(PRESS RELEASE) – As of April 13, 2020, the WHO reported a total of 1,773,084 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally with 111,652 deaths.
There are now 610,742 confirmed cases in the region of the Americas. The affected region includes Dominican Republic (2,967), Haiti (31), Barbados (68), Jamaica (69), Cuba (669), Dominica (16), Grenada (14), Trinidad and Tobago (112), Guyana (37), Saint Lucia (15), Antigua and Barbuda (21), Bahamas (42), Saint Vincent and Grenadines (12), Guadeloupe (143), Martinique (156), Puerto Rico (897), Saint Barthelemy (6), Aruba (92), Saint Martin (33), US Virgin Islands (51), Cayman Islands (53).
As of April 14, 2020, Saint Lucia has a total of 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Follow-up tests were also conducted on the confirmed cases in care, and to date, a total of 11 of the confirmed 15 COVID-19 patients have recovered. Presently there are 25 persons in quarantine and 20 in isolation.
Quarantine is used to separate and restrict the movement of persons who are well and may have been exposed to a communicable disease like COVID-19. This quarantine period allows for monitoring contacts who develop signs and symptoms over the incubation period of the particular disease. We use the designated quarantine facilities for persons who travel into Saint Lucia from areas of high risk and persons who were in contact with any positive cases who do not have signs and symptoms. There are certain cases when assessed by the Ministry of Health require that the individual be placed on home quarantine among these being if the individual is confined to the bed and unable to function independently.
Isolation is used to separate known ill persons who have a communicable disease like COVID-19 from others who are healthy. Isolation restricts the movement of ill persons to help stop the spread of infection. In Saint Lucia, positive COVID-19 cases are kept in isolation. Isolation is also done for persons who have flu-like symptoms who were in contact with positive cases and patients but have not yet been confirmed as COVID-19 positive cases. These individuals are also kept in isolation until their results are received.
Today, Tuesday, April 14, 2020, Saint Lucia continues on a 10-hour curfew from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily. Some of the national protocols which apply to this include: remain at home leaving only for food or medical purposes, avoid mass crowd events and social gatherings, practice physical distancing and good personal hygiene. The public is also advised against going to public places with flu-like symptoms including fever, coughing, and sneezing. When visiting the supermarket or public places refrain from touching items unless you intend to purchase them. Essential service workers and the elderly are granted time for grocery shopping to facilitate their timely return to their posts and homes respectively. The public is asked to exhibit patience while these segments of our population are being served.
Although hardware stores are open in an effort to facilitate household emergencies and increase water storage capacity, the public is reminded that we are still on a national scale-down. Only leave your house for essential goods. Observe the rules of physical distancing. Saint Lucia is still at a very critical position in the response to the national COVID-19 threat.
One of the recommendations included the use of a face mask or scarf when going to public places such as the supermarkets. The face mask or scarf may be used for source-control by reducing potential exposure risk from infected persons during the “pre-symptomatic” period.
For face masks to be effective in reducing infection, they must be used properly. Some basic guidelines include:
– Ensure the mask is clean before use.
– Wash hands with soap and flowing water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer before touching mask.
– The mask should be held by the ties or the loops only.
– The coverings should fit snugly but comfortably and allow for breathing without restriction.
– Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth when the mask is on your face and when removing the face mask.
– Cloth masks should be washed daily after use.
– Do not place the mask on the forehead or below the chin. Do not remove the masks to talk and quarrel.
– Persons should avoid using their mobile phones while wearing a mask.
– Do not use medical supply masks (surgical and N95 masks), which must be reserved for healthcare workers, first responders and people who are known to be sick. The public should use the handmade cloth masks.
We continue to advise the public to focus on the maintenance of standard recommendations to prevent the spread of infection. These include:
– regular handwashing with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer where soap and water are not available.
– cover mouth and nose with disposable tissues or clothing when coughing and sneezing.
– avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
– seek medical attention and share your travel history with your health care provider if you have symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness either during or after travel.
The Department of Health and Wellness will continue providing regular updates on COVID-19