Health Minister St Clair “Jimmy” Prince, has acknowledged that the health care system in St Vincent and the Grenadines is stretched, but coping amidst the latest surge in the coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.
“So far, though stretched, the system has been able to cope as we have already put certain measures in place in anticipation of the surge,” Prince told reporters, adding “this does not mean that the danger of being overwhelmed is not real.
“We have already converted two wards the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital into COVID-19 wards, and we have identified a third in case it is needed. This is in addition to our Argyle facility and our stepped down facility,” he added.
St Vincent and the Grenadines has been experiencing an upsurge in COVID-19 cases since September 8, recording 2,395 new cases of the virus, slightly more than it had recorded since the first case was diagnosed on March 11, 2020.
During that same time, the island has recorded 44 deaths and as of Thursday, health authorities have recorded 4,786 cases of COVID-19 and 56 COVID-19 related deaths, while 2,974 people have recovered and 1,756 cases remain active.
Prince said that the development has implications for the non-COVID patients and the ability of medical personnel to dispense care in the normal way.
“These have not been normal times, especially for our health services providers. And I wish to take this opportunity to thank and commend all staff for the wonderful work they have been doing in keeping the nation safe in this special period,” he said.
“Many of these workers have done double shifts at the various departments of the hospital, at Argyle, at the polyclinics and health centres, and even on the road with our vaccination drives.”
“Those of you who have stepped up to the plate in what is one of the most difficult periods in our short history, I applaud you and wish you continued strength as we continue to fight in this protracted war against this pandemic. I thank everybody who has been pulling their weight here at this time. Let’s look at the status now.”
Prince noted the increasing number of COVID-19 positive cases and deaths across the country and encouraged people to get vaccinated.
“And the faces are getting more and more familiar to most people. And the deaths are getting closer to our families. I encourage all Vincentians to take all the precautionary measures including vaccination,” he said and extended condolences to the families of the nation’s COVID-19 victims,” he said, adding “we continue to see an increase in hospitalisation for persons requiring care for COVID-19.”
The Health Minister said that at least three types of vaccines are available here free of charge.
“Take it while you can get it free. While the numbers are increasing, we are still not where we need to be. We still are trying to get people to take the vaccine. It is important; it is free; it is available; it is accessible and it works,” he said
“Those of you who are still sitting on the fence regarding vaccination take a look around you and observe the havoc the pandemic is having here in St Vincent and the Grenadines. People are getting sicker; others are dying; there is no school; the economy is suffering.”
“Protect yourself, protect your loved ones, and protect your country. Get vaccinated now; forget about those people who still look at you askance if you take the vaccine. It is in your interest. It is in the country’s interest,” Prince said.