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Testing saves lives

Testing saves lives

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In the war against Covid-19, testing saves lives. Testing is the only way to determine if someone is infected with SARS-CoV-2 – regardless of whether they have symptoms – and whether that person is at risk of spreading the infection to others.

Testing therefore is an indispensable weapon in our fight to defeat this virus and save the lives of our people.

Over the last few days, health authorities have had to restrict access to two emergency evacuation shelters after 14 persons from those shelters tested positive for the virus.

In an unfortunate and surprising turn of events, officials of the Ministry of Health are reporting that many people at our shelters, both residents and workers, have been refusing to be tested for Covid-19, thus severely hampering efforts to contain the virus.

This anti-testing posture is surprising as this has not always been the case. When there was a spike in Covid-19 cases in January, 2021, Vincentians and other residents flocked to testing sites around the country, anxious to get tested so that their status could be determined.

Testing is important not only in order to contain the virus, but because early diagnosis and treatment can save lives.

Resistance to testing comes at the same time that we are experiencing a slowdown in vaccination rates, as well as a relaxation of social distancing and mask wearing by members of the public. If something does not change, and change

quickly, this lethal mix could take us back to our situation of January and February this year when there were over 1000 active cases of Covid-19 and wards at the Milton Cato Hospital and at the Isolation facility were filled to capacity with people who were seriously ill with the virus; Or the situation could be worse.

We need only to turn on our television sets, computers or mobile devices to see the horrifying situation in India with their funeral pyres burning continuously at cremation grounds, dead bodies piling up at hospitals and people, unable to be admitted to a health care facility because of insufficient beds; struggling to breathe in makeshift outdoor facilities or at their homes. The situation in India is a story of complacency. Many people falsely believed that they were past the worst and that the country had defeated Covid.

Let us not make the same mistake as our Indian brothers and sisters did. St Vincent and the Grenadines cannot take another disaster on top of those we already have.

We need to act sensibly and practice all the recommended Covid-19 protocols, including getting tested when recommended, wearing our masks, physically distancing and getting vaccinated.