Don't allow selfish, reckless actions to erode our COVID-19 gains

Don't allow selfish, reckless actions to erode our COVID-19 gains

Friday, August 07, 2020

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Earlier this week we drew attention to a most timely caution from the World Health Organization (WHO) that there may never be a silver bullet for COVID-19; therefore, people need to ensure that they observe the known basic steps to suppress the pandemic, such as testing, contact tracing, maintaining physical distance, hand-sanitising and -washing, and wearing a mask.

The WHO issued the warning because more and more people in many countries, including here in Jamaica, have let their guard down and are flouting protocols designed to reduce spread of the novel coronavirus.

It appears that the relatively low number of new cases and the high recovery rate here have fuelled a cavalier attitude among many Jamaicans. So we have seen over the past few weeks people walking around without masks, congregating in large numbers at entertainment venues, basically throwing caution to the wind.

In fact, just this week Local Government Minister Mr Desmond McKenzie was forced to summon the leaders of the entertainment industry after he learnt that more than 700 events had been staged without permission being sought. And, in other instances where approvals for events were given, the agreed conditions were blatantly breached.

As if that were not bad enough, we are learning from Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton that many of the 23,000 people who arrived in the island recently and were placed under home quarantine are not observing that protocol.

It is not far-fetched to assume that they, by this reckless and selfish behaviour, are contributing to the increasing number of people who Dr Tufton tells us are turning up at hospitals or health centres with positive symptoms of the virus.

As it now stands, the country has recorded more than 920 cases of COVID-19. Unfortunately, 12 of those cases resulted in death, but thankfully well over 740 have recovered, so Jamaica, by any measure, has done well in managing the pandemic. But it is important for people to understand that we are not out of the woods.

With no vaccine or successful treatment in sight at this time we have to do all that's necessary to live with this virus. The importance of people abiding by the safety protocols cannot be repeated often enough. It is for our own good.

We should not allow careless actions to lead to a lockdown of the economy, as that would only make matters worse. Anyone who doubts that just needs to reflect on the absolute chaos that broke out after the lockdown of St Catherine a few months ago.

As we have pointed out before, managing a crisis of this magnitude is not easy, as many individuals, fully focused and working in tandem, are required for the type of effective response we have experienced so far.

We reiterate that everything has not gone smoothly. That is the nature of any major operation with many moving parts. But no one can deny that what has been happening here is superior to the experience in other jurisdictions that are blessed with far more resources.

Let us not erode those gains, and especially now that the country is in election mode.

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