Editorial
March 8, 2022
Could this be the end of COVID?

THE LATEST COVID-19 update from the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment paints a picture far more beautiful than we have seen in well over a year. The number of recorded COVID-19 cases in the country can be counted on one hand (four) and no one is sick enough to be hospitalized for the virus. Less than six months ago, there were over 1000 active cases and almost 40 people were hospitalized. At that time, our death toll was 21. Eightyfive deaths later, we are wondering, could this be the end?

The patterns we are seeing here in relation to reported positive cases and hospitalizations are being seen in many other places around the world. The Omicron variant spread with lightning speed, causing record peaks here in St Vincent and the Grenadines and elsewhere. It seems to now be retreating as quickly as it came, but not without costing us dearly.

Our health authorities have responded to the low positivity rates by loosening some public health restrictions. Vaccinated arrivals are being allowed into the country on the basis of a negative Rapid Antigen test, with no requirement to quarantine or be further tested, and larger gatherings are being allowed once again under certain conditions.

But while we are hoping this respite signals the beginning of the end, other parts of the world are experiencing their worst peaks since the virus was identified. We therefore cannot throw the masks in the bins just yet or say a jubilant farewell to all public health protocols, no matter how fed up we are of them. Once COVID-19 exists anywhere in the world, we all are at risk as there is always the possibility that a new, dangerous variant may emerge, bringing with it another wave of infection and death.

But scientists say that once the Omicron variant remains dominant, we can be cautiously optimistic that we are moving towards a phase where the disease could be managed as an endemic disease much like dengue fever or chicken pox; a disease which will not easily overwhelm our health system. But in the meantime, let us play it safe.