St. Lucian Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has told citizens it is “no secret” that the island has exhausted all of the efforts aimed at providing financial assistance to citizens in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and appealed to nationals to follow the various protocols and measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus that has so far infected 29 people there.
In a television broadcast on Sunday night, Chastanet, flanked by the Chief Medical Officer Dr. Charon Belmar-George and Police Commissioner Severin Moncherry, acknowledged that it had become difficult to raise funds both locally and overseas to finance the programme.
“It is no secret the government has exhausted all of the resources with the NIC (Notional Insurance Corporation) and donor agencies to provide a social stabilisation programme for the public and for those persons who have lost their jobs.”
“We have no more money. What we are hoping to do is regain the strength of our economy so many persons can be re-employed,” Chastanet said, thanking those hoteliers that have re-employed their workers ‘Despite knowing that they are going to lose money for several months’.
His statement came as health authorities there confirmed that a 48-year-old bus driver had become the country’s latest COVID-19 case, and Chastanet warned that if St. Lucia lost its status and the confidence that “the rest of the world has with us, it is going to significantly impact the arrivals that we are having into our country to lower our standards and so that would be difficult, if not impossible for me and my Cabinet to agree to that.”
Chastanet seemed to link the latest case with the illegal entry into the island mainly from the neighbouring French island Martinique, adding “we don’t know if these people have COVID. Everybody wants to keep it a secret.”
Chastanet said St. Lucians have to act as if everyone has the virus, noting also that the public transport drivers were also guilty of not following the protocols and allowing more passengers than allowed into the buses.
He said he was urging all St. Lucians to realise that 31 cases situation “is not a joke” and that there were many people there going about their daily business without wearing masks and advocating that “there is no COVID in St. Lucia”.
He also dismissed suggestions that health authorities were falsifying the figures relating to the pandemic, adding “this is irresponsible”.