A. Situation analysis
Description of the disaster
On 26 August 2020, St. Lucia’s Ministry of Health and Wellness declared an outbreak of dengue fever1 . The Syndromic Surveillance report for epidemiological week 42 (dated 22 October 2020) indicated 801 confirmed cases on the island with a further 333 suspected cases. Dengue serotypes 2 and 3 circulate in St. Lucia, with a third unknown serotype to be confirmed. 26 per cent of cases require hospitalisation. 17 October 2020 saw 3 confirmed dengue-related deaths with a 4th death being investigated by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) .
This increase in the number of cases over the past two months is a clear indicator of a larger imminent outbreak on the island. As such, it is necessary to reduce the number of cases shortly.
The mean age of cases is 21 years, ranging from 3 weeks to 94 years. The northern part of the island continues to report the highest numbers of cases, although cases have been reported throughout the island2 . The age group 5-14-years accounts for approximately 36% of cases, of which 55% are male. Following this, the 15-24 and 25-49 age groups each accounted for 21% of cases, 52% of whom are male whereas 58% are female .
St. Lucia is currently experiencing the most severe dengue fever outbreak in its recent history and, at the same time, is also facing the COVID 19 pandemic at the national level. The current dengue outbreak in St. Lucia represents an over 3,000% increase in the number of cases from the preceding year (20 cases in 2019 vs 801 confirmed thus far in 2020).
While the entire island is currently affected by the outbreak, cases are concentrated in the island’s northwest.
As such, during a meeting with the national society on 16 October 2020, the Ministry of Health and Wellness requested the assistance of the St. Lucia Red Cross in managing the outbreak. In addition, the rainy season and a lack of regular water supply means that community members have increased rainwater harvesting around their homes and this is not always done with an appropriate covering.