Best start out of the block, then...


Best start out of the block, then...


Friday, April 24, 2020

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The US Government, World Health Organization (WHO), and Miami Herald, among others, all agree that Jamaica was among the countries in the hemisphere most prepared for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), or was it?

We issued a travel ban on China around late January. We then followed that up with a similar travel ban on Italy, South Korea, Singapore, and Iran, in late February. Honestly, I was most impressed with this too. But I wasn't so impressed with the sheer amount of weaknesses that I noticed in the system's preparedness, implementation, and management.

I kept asking: Why aren't we placing a travel ban on the USA, UK, and Canada? After all, these three countries account for more travel to Jamaica than all other countries in the world combined. The response was always the same — that is impossible, because it will hurt our tourism industry. I agreed!

If the virus has an incubation period of 14 days or so. And using available preliminary data, the median time from onset to clinical recovery for mild cases is approximately two weeks — three to six weeks for patients with severe or critical cases.

The first case in Jamaica was identified around March 9. That is more than a month ago. Imagine that there had been a controlled total lockdown from the time of the first confirmed case.

This is what I believe would have happened: With logic, critical thinking, science, and the available data as our guide, all those people who were first known to have the virus would by now have recovered, and those who were unaware that they had the virus would also have recovered, or almost, by now. We would have disrupted the spread and ultimately flattened the curve; hence, making Jamaica COVID-19 free, or almost free at this time, or in a couple of weeks.

Because of doing the opposite to what logic, science, and the available data dictates we have been doing a gradual lockdown and release of people in select parts. Given the amount of potentially infected people moving around daily, a gradual shutdown means the gradual spreading of the virus. This will have a way more significant impact on the economy and the livelihood of its inhabitants, especially the poorest individuals and the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as creative entrepreneurs like myself and my team. And, this will impact us all for a much longer period. For a longer period more people will run low on essentials and may go hungry; more people will be without an income source; more people will suffer emotionally, mentally, and physically; and more businesses will end up in a chaotic situation or, worse, collapse.

Had the decision been made to take that crucial tough policy move of a controlled total lockdown from the get-go, today we would have been gradually reopening the country for business. We kept telling ourselves that it's impossible for the country to have a controlled lockdown and, as a consequence, we all will suffer for a much longer time. Always remember whatever man has made is never impossible to rearrange, disassemble, and reassemble. What is impossible is fixing a life that is lost.

Newton's third law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So, it follows that a gradual shutdown means a gradual spreading of COVID-19.

Additionally, since March I have consistently recommended that wearing masks should be mandatory; that, too, they said was impossible and unwise. For me, a little protection is better than none, especially given the fact that people are expected to still move about daily in public and we are doing so little testing.

Bull Bay, for the most part, is today free of coronavirus cases, but the infected from other parts of the island walk amongst us daily. Cornpiece in Clarendon is on the path also of becoming COVID-19-free.

Did you know?

Did you know that Jamaica has done the least amount of COVID-19 tests per million in the Americas, behind Haiti. A total of just 1,200+ tests have been done since February or March, and we have a population of three million. Jamaica has only done approximately 400+ tests per one million — the second lowest in the entire Americas. The more our policymakers blunder the more it will cost the country dearly.

Ricardo “Riic” Carter is creative director and chairman of AnimeComic Fest, as well as president of Jamaica Cosplay Club. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or

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