Three major hotels in St Lucia will close as the country tries continues to combat the growing coronavirus (COVID-19) threat to the island.
The country’s Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, revealed the news last evening during a national broadcast, but gave no additional information regarding the closure.
St Lucia confirmed its first imported case of the virus last Friday, March 13. Mere hours before, the nation’s health minister had said there were no confirmed cases on the island. Since then, the country has confirmed a second imported case of the coronavirus which has hit approximately 184 thousand people globally, resulting in more than 7,400 deaths.
Further, Chastanet, presenting a united front with members of the Cabinet, said gatherings of 50 people or more were being discouraged and that the Jazz Festival, scheduled for a May 7 start, had been cancelled. He said there will be dialogue with officials and stakeholders regarding its scheduled carnival and other events.
“If this virus has taught us anything else, it has taught about the obligation we have to care and protect each other. It is in so doing that we shall overcome any threat that COVID-19 could potentially pose to us as a country.”– St Lucia’s Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet
Previously, all schools were ordered closed as the government encouraged social distancing as a preventative measure. Chastanet said discussions are being held to determine how best to continue educating students.
He said travels restrictions were further extended to countries facing severe impact including France, Germany, Spain, Iran and the United Kingdom, adding that screening protocols for visitors at all the island’s ports had been increased.
Testing kits for the virus have also been acquired, Chastanet said, continuing that “staff are currently undergoing training with a testing lab to be set up later this week.” He said those kits will help to reduce the wait time for results from a day to between two and four hours.
“There is no doubt that confronting this virus will test our resources – medical and economic and it will also have a psychological effect. We are now heading to higher alert levels and if we do begin to see cases in the community, we will have to review our decisions and move to more stringent measures.”
In a post to his Facebook page, Chastanet said, “If this virus has taught us anything else, it has taught about the obligation we have to care and protect each other. It is in so doing that we shall overcome any threat that COVID-19 could potentially pose to us as a country.”
Most countries in the region have recorded at least one case of the coronavirus, with Barbados being the latest CARICOM country to announce confirmed cases earlier today.