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8 COVID deaths in St Lucia as infections rise

8 COVID deaths in St Lucia as infections rise

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CASTRIES  – St Lucia on Friday reported a record eight deaths from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as health authorities said they have taken note “of significant increases” in reported cases.

The Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs said that there were also 345 new cases of COVID-19 from a batch of 892 samples tested on Thursday, bringing the total number of cases diagnosed in country to date to 8 887.

The ministry said that the eight new deaths had pushed the island’s total to 84 and that the ages of those who succumbed to the virus ranged from 34 to 93 years.

“Confirmation was also received of the recovery of 78 individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 bringing the number of active cases in country to date to 2 312. One of these active cases is currently critical and 13 of them are severely ill at the Respiratory Hospital,” the ministry added.

It said that the Delta variant has been proven to be more contagious and severe than previous strains and its presence in country means that COVID-19 cases as well as deaths will continue to soar.

“This combined with a low vaccination uptake – 15 per cent of the total population – means that our population remains at a very high risk. As we continue with community transmission we have noted that all sectors of our society are being affected in some form or another,” the ministry said.

It said to date, 34 926 individuals received the first dose of the Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine and 27 986 the second dose. For the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine 3 627 individuals received the first dose and 72 the second dose.

The health authorities said that while the need to maintain businesses operational is fully acknowledged, they remain “very concerned over the increasing number of breeches in national protocols.

“There is a growing tendency of business places to ignore the workplace guidelines and test workers at their discretion. This practice is to be discontinued as testing contacts prematurely and instructing them to return to work may be creating an unsafe workplace whereby employees have a false sense of security originating from a false negative test result.

“The need for testing and quarantine is based on the ‘level of exposure’ and clinical status of a contact. A decision is then made on whether contacts should be isolated, quarantined or made to self-monitor. In the latter two, the period of monitoring for the development of signs and symptoms for COVID-19 is 14 days from the last day of contact with the infected individual; this is the maximum incubation period of the disease. A negative test does not shorten the quarantine period.”

The ministry noted that earlier this year, St Lucia adjusted the discharge from isolation criteria in accordance with guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO).

It warned that a negative PCR result is no longer considered a requirement for discharge from isolation.

“In addition to a sick leave form, the Ministry of Health also issues a letter of discharge from quarantine and isolation to all persons who have been placed in either quarantine or isolation,” the ministry said, reiterating that a negative PCR result is no longer considered a requirement for discharge from isolation and employees should not be mandated to produce a negative PCR result in order to return to work, especially as a PCR test may remain positive for months after a person has recovered from COVID-19.

“This new request for a negative PCR result is now creating a strain on staff at the testing sites and laboratory, as well as encouraging COVID-19 cases to leave their homes against protocols in order to get tested.”

The Ministry of Health said it is reminding reminds persons in the same household as a confirmed case of COVID-19 that they should not leave the home to go to school or work.

“Instead, they should get tested to determine their COVID-19 status” it added. (CMC)