Coronavirus resolutions

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For whereas the true extent of our Covid-10 infections is yet to be determined; and whereas, because of circumstances, some beyond our control, we struggled to implement a robust testing regime; and whereas those inordinate delays in local testing caused many to lose confidence in the utterances from on high; and whereas, thanks to the persistence and expertise of Dr. Lester Simon, our local laboratory testing has taken off, be it resolved that the administration significantly ramp up the testing regime. It is the need of the hour. In almost all countries where testing was expanded, the number of Covid-19 cases that were unearthed increased greatly. Best to get the true picture.

Clearly, testing’s the thing! As per a press release from the Ministry of Health dated June 29, 2020, “The ministry wishes to advise that the Mount St. John’s Medical Centre has begun testing independently for Covid-19 while maintaining a relationship with CARPHA, which serves as a reference lab to maintain a high level of proficiency. . . . The Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment, the Honourable Molwyn Joseph, expresses deep appreciation to Dr Lester Simon and his staff for achieving independent laboratory capacity to meet the requirement of more testing in Antigua and Barbuda.”  So be it resolved!

Meanwhile, whereas this administration has had much difficulty with the words and phrases that it has thrown around rather thoughtlessly at press conferences; and whereas some of those words and expressions are, “next week,” “soonest,” “in a matter of days,”  “We will be,” and  “we are looking into it,” be it resolved that this administration be herewith forbidden from employing any of those specious words and phrases that, rather than placating us, actually convey the impression that the administration is ad libbing. After all, in practically every instance where the political directorate has breezily used one of the above phrases or words, to create a sense that it knows what it is doing, nothing has ever materialised as promised.    

And whereas this administration has developed a penchant for dismissing every legitimate question about its stewardship, or lack thereof, as “cheap political gamesmanship” to “score cheap political points;” and whereas this unseemly defensive posture is reminiscent of that of the President of the United States, Donald Trump, a leader who is extremely defensive and thin-skinned, and who insists on branding critical media as “Democrat operatives playing politics;” be it resolved that this administration refrain from those . . . uh . . . . shall we say, “cheap” broadsides in an attempt to deflect criticism.  

And whereas we the people have been lulled into a false sense of security by the opening of the borders, and silly talk about hosting ‘jam sessions’to replace Carnival 2020; and whereas the relaxing of restrictions on the numbers of passengers that can now ride on buses (to hell with social distancing) is leading many to believe that the worst is over; be it resolved that the political directorate hereby refrain from unserious talk about partying in the middle of this existential crisis; and be it further resolved that the social distancing guidelines that were previously in place for buses be reinstituted. Let us not be unmindful of the dire warning from the World Health Organisation (WHO) as reported by Anne Gullard in THE DAILY TELEGRAPH [June 9, 2020], Europe’s top WHO official warns that a second deadly coronavirus spike could coincide with outbreaks of other infectious diseases. A second wave could coincide with seasonal flu or measles, making it potentially much worse.  In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, Dr Hans Kluge, director for the WHO European region, delivered a stark warning by saying that now is the “time for preparation, not celebration.”

But lest we be tempted to think that the abovementioned warning applies only to Europe, let us remember John Donne’s moving declaration that “No man is an island entire unto itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; . . . any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”  [NO MAN IS AN ISLAND]. Unless we go back to another total lockdown, and become an island unto ourselves, we will remain connected with our brothers and sisters around the globe with er . . . only “six degrees of separation,” so to speak. (Never mind the six feet mandated by many countries and their social distancing protocols)

Of course, there are more preambles and resolutions. For whereas our Prime Minister, the Honourable Gaston Browne was hesitant to meet with the irate police officers at the Police Recreation Grounds on his social distancing concerns, it is not difficult to extrapolate that the good PM knows that the Covid-19 threat here in Antigua and Barbuda is far from over, notwithstanding the significant easing of restrictions.  Indeed, the fact is, now that so many restrictions have been lifted, the risks to the population are greater. It is instructive to note the following line in a media statement from the PM’s office dated June 29, 2020: “The prime minister explained that his reluctance to attend the open-field meeting, where 150 officers were gathered, was triggered by the vulnerability to infection which crowds pose. He has a responsibility to protect the office which he holds, and not become ill at this time.” Folks, be it resolved that we the people take personal responsibility for ourselves, and by extension, our fellowmen. Coronavirus is a word that rhymes with ‘witch,’ and much like devil grass, it could keep coming back, just when we utter the all clear. Be it further resolved that we remain eternally vigilant!

Consider the following grave warning from WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, about 48 hours ago: “[The pandemic is] accelerating particularly in the Americas . . . The hard reality is that this is not even close to being over. The worst is yet to come.” Hmmm!

And whereas we have been forewarned; and whereas to be forewarned is to be forearmed; be it resolved that we “take arms against this sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them.” [Shakespeare, HAMLET]

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