CASTRIES, ST. LUCIA – Taiwan’s ambassador to Saint Lucia, Peter Chen, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Saint Lucia Nurses Association (SLNA) president, Alicia Baptiste, to strengthen ties for nursing education and training.
With this MOU, nursing education, nursing professional training, and nursing exchange are expected to flourish, at a time when many aspects of Saint Lucia’s health care are in disarray.
Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccines were recently donated to Saint Lucia as part of the ongoing effort to save lives by members of the Republic of China (Taiwan), a responsible member of the global community believing in achieving the vision of health of the World Health Organization (WHO).
The ministry of health, wellness, and elderly affairs announced that it had achieved a COVID-19 vaccination coverage of 29 percent, resulting in approximately 52,852 people being vaccinated. A further three percent is partially vaccinated; and 6, 908 boosters have been administered.
The ministry of health communication headlined: “Take personal responsibility to get vaccinated” “It reiterates the importance of COVID-19 vaccination, even as we note a significant decline in COVID-19 infections in the country.”
“The COVID-19 virus isn’t going away anytime soon. The COVID-19 pandemic will not end anywhere before it ends everywhere,” further accepted:
“We know that low vaccine coverage makes us more vulnerable, and increases the risk of the country for the likely emergence and circulation of new variants.”
Saint Lucia experienced a decline in reported cases during the fifth wave, according to the ministry of health, wellness and elderly affairs; however, low COVID-19 testing leaves the population vulnerable to future variants, as samples collected and processed are well below the ability to test up to 2,000 people in a single day.
“Therefore, the decline “may not be real” due to a lack of testing and processed samples that are well below the ability to test making it nearly impossible to get a clear sense of the true number of COVID-19 cases in Saint Lucia.”
According to a report from the Ministry of Health, samples processed on Tuesday, March 15, 2022, from 149 samples, indicated eight new cases of COVID-19, suggesting that: “Safe and effective vaccines, which we have at our disposal, are a game-changing tool” the ministry of health announced, however, advised: “It’s not vaccines that will stop the pandemic – it’s vaccination that will do it. Let’s be more proactive and less reactive.”
“COVID-19 vaccination has been integrated into all our primary care services. Vaccines can be accessed at all the Wellness Centres across the island. For those of us who have been vaccinated, this does not mean that we can throw caution to the wind, and put ourselves and others at risk. We must continue wearing masks, cleaning our hands, ensuring good ventilation indoors, physically distancing, and avoiding crowds.”
A new variant – Deltacron – has also been confirmed, according to the ministry of health. “Even though it may seem far away at the moment, remember that viruses can spread quickly, especially through international travel, which will compound the island’s weak surveillance system, low vaccination rate, access to healthcare, and increasing healthcare costs.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) warned last Wednesday a combination of factors, such as misinformation that the pandemic is over, ending physical distancing, the lifting of mask mandates, and the spread of a more transmissible variant of Omicron BA.2, are causing an increase in COVID-19 cases worldwide.
In Geneva, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus told journalists “After several weeks of declines, reported cases of COVID-19 are once again increasing globally, especially in parts of Asia.”
The agency has seen an increase of eight percent in the detection of COVID-19 cases, with more than 11 million positive test results. “These increases are occurring despite reductions in testing in some countries, which means the cases we are seeing are just the tip of the iceberg”, Tedros explained, warning that when cases tick up, so do deaths.
While the sentiment of COVID-19 cases in Saint Lucia is trending downward, the MOU between Taiwan and The Saint Lucia Nurses Association – Taiwan Can Help – is helping the government prepare for COVID-19 re-emergence, as the largely unvaccinated population prepares for large crowd events and The Vaxxed Mas.