Blunders aboundThursday, September 16, 2021
Jamaica on March 10, 2020 confirmed its first imported case of the novel coronavirus. We are now 17 months in and struggling more than ever from the devastation of a third wave of infections and COVID-19-related deaths.
The management of the novel coronavirus pandemic has caused much damage to our fragile economy, reflected in a broken health system, crisis in education, social injustice, and a poverty reduction plan.
To date, Jamaica is still waiting for the Andrew Holness-led Administration to detail a credible plan to combat and contain the spread of the virus. The country continues to call up on the Government to paint a blissful picture of hope and prosperity as we grapple to release ourselves from the vice grip of this pandemic.
Most certainly, reports have surfaced of the deaths of Jamaicans, including a health-care worker, alleged to be a result of the recent shortage of oxygen at our health-care facilities. Conflicting reports have also surfaced as to whether a projection on the need for oxygen was provided by the Ministry of Health to IGL Limited, the sole provider of medical oxygen in the country.
The containment measures imposed by the Government through curfews and no-movement days are not proving to be worthwhile. The Government has produced no data to suggest that curfews and lockdowns have been working in their current form. Many Jamaicans are now forced to cram seven days of business within four days, thus creating a greater need to bundle and disobey the physical distancing protocols.
The approved opening of the entertainment sector was another blunder of the Government as, seemingly, little human resource was deployed to enforce agreed protocols, especially at 'big-money' promoters' events.
I want to remind the Government that during the run-up to the 2011 General Election, then Prime Minister Andrew Holness prescribed “bitter medicine”. Both himself and his prescription were strongly rejected on December 29, 2011 by 42/21 seats in favour of the Opposition. Ten years later and the same prime minister is not only prescribing bitter medicine but administering daily dosages of it.
At this stage in the game it stands to reason that politics is at play in the management of the pandemic — whether it appears to be so or not. I am, therefore, urging the prime minister to mobilise a team of technocrats, drawn from all walks of society and competent in the field of crisis management, to recommend protocols to contain and manage the crisis we now face. The team should sort and recommend solutions to protect people's social safety nets, small business operators, the health-care system, and the education sector, which has suffered greatly since the start of the pandemic.
While I am no scientist, I ask for the logical enforcement of mandatory testing at our ports of entry and monitoring of visitors' whereabouts throughout their stay in Jamaica. I believe that visitors' ability to roam freely is contributing much to the COVID-19 crisis that continues to bend the country to its will.
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