CASTRIES, St. Lucia – Health authorities Friday said that St. Lucia is currently managing a sixth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic expressing “grave concern” at the continued impact on the education sector and “the future of our children’s education”.
The Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs said today, the island had recorded 23, 978 cases and given the increase in the daily positivity and infection rates, “we expect to see increases in the number of school aged children diagnosed with the virus”.
The ministry said that it is “crucial” that students who are unwell not attend school and that they should be assessed and tested for COVID-19 if deemed necessary by the health practitioner.
“We have learnt that symptoms of COVID-19 vary. Students may present with typical flu like symptoms such as cough, runny nose, fever. Others may have gastroenteritis like symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. Some students may complain of headache while others may just be fatigued,” the ministry said, reminding parents that if their child complains of feeling unwell, “do the right thing and get them assessed”.
It is also urging parents to keep children at home if a member of the household is experiencing symptoms and is awaiting results for COVID-19.
“It is also important for children to be tested if one household member tests positive – meaning they are contacts of a positive case – to ascertain their status and to ensure the timely return to school,” the ministry said, adding that contact tracing is a process that relies heavily on the honesty and integrity of the persons involved.
The health authorities said they have noted increased use of home rapid test kits and that while it is useful for screening, the Ministry of Health requires confirmation of these tests with a PCR test.
The ministry said that the Pfizer vaccine remains available for those 12-17 years old, which is the most affected group of children, and urges parents to ensure that those eligible for the vaccines are vaccinated.
“Personal responsibility cannot be emphasized enough. We all need to continue to observe the protocols and to speak to our children about doing the same. Washing our hands or sanitizing, proper wearing of masks and avoiding crowds have all proven to help reduce transmission.
“The pandemic has taken a substantial toll on both academics and the mental health of our children. School is absolutely essential and as our children have returned to the classrooms, let us ensure that we work to not only maintain a safe learning environment within the schools but in general so that schools can continue to run,” the ministry added.