It is the darndest thing. And a helluva coincidence. We’re referring to the uncanny manner in which our recent laboratory confirmed Covid numbers have neatly fit into the pronouncement from those in high places that if we were to experience a week of three (3) cases per day, the authorities would be forced to institute another national shutdown. Well guess what? Abracadabra! We suddenly seem caught in a shutdown vortex caused by, well . . . 3 cases per day.
Consider the following disturbing and strangely coincidental numbers from the last eight days, if you will. On Sunday 17 January, 2021, we had 2 new cases, taking our total laboratory confirmed cases to 189. On Tuesday 19, we had 1 new case for a total of 190. On Wednesday 20, we had no new cases. It was the following day that Minister of Information, Melford Nicholas, gravely declared, “If we begin to see the infections race upwards . . . there’s a ratio the Minister of Health presented to us, if over a seven-day period we begin to see the numbers tick upwards of three, it would be that we are heading into that realm, and of course, we would be required to look at all the other stringent measures, inclusive of another shutdown. This is obviously something no one wants to do; it is going to be disruptive, it is going to be impacting on businesses and the economy, but the health of our people comes first.” Indeed! A second shutdown would result in enormous hurt to the already suffering people of this country. Hundreds of Antiguans and Barbudans are already barely eking out an existence, the pain hidden behind their masks. They cannot take much more.
It is for that reason that we here at NEWSCO have been urging Antiguans and Barbudans to, as it were, “go back to the old landmarks.” We have become complacent in our strict adherence to the social distancing and mask-wearing protocols. We have become lax in the good coughing and sneezing and vigorous hand-washing ways of last March, when Covid first stalked the land, seeking whom it could devour. We have strayed far from the path of Covid righteousness. We agree with Minister Nicholas’ exhortation for us to “Be mindful, be cognisant and conscious of doing those things that worked so well for us last year, and ensure that we can stay within that safety realm.”
Unfortunately, something appears to be carrying us inexorably to another shutdown. Is it our willful and wanton ways at beach picnics and private boat excursions, where all the rules designed to keep us safe are brazenly flouted? The neighbourhood domino and card games where there is much carousing and fraternizing sans masks? Or is it merely the whimsical and capricious finger of fate? Has our dumb luck finally run out? Remember, there are many thinkers who are of the opinion that our numbers are artificially and deliberately low on account of the dearth in testing. There are also those who opine that there has not been enough enforcement. That our airport authorities give some a free pass. That the numbers that are reflected in the dashboard are well . . . well . . .
The point is that there are a number of persons who do not think that the dashboard reflects the true state of Covid-19 in Antigua and Barbuda. They have no confidence in it. Plain and simple. Anyway . . .
On Thursday 21, we had 2 new cases that took us to a total of 192 cases. On Friday 22, we had 3 new cases taking us to 195. On Sunday 24, we had another 3 new cases taking us to 198. And yesterday, Monday 25, we had yet another 3 new cases, taking us beyond the psychologically significant milestone of 200 laboratory confirmed cases to 201. Good grief! Help us, Lord! That number of 3 new cases has shown up with a remarkable consistency ever since the good Minister Nicholas indicated that 3 new cases per day in a seven-day period would be the threshold for a new shutdown. Hmmmmm . . .
Of course, as said before, the people of Antigua and Barbuda cannot afford another shutdown. Neither can this absolutely broke administration. Covid puffed in March of last year, and by April, this vain-glorious administration that had been bloviating about the wondrous economic growth and assorted fiscal blather in 2019, was exposed, its tattered bingo-bag drawers flapping in the ill wind. Another shutdown would bring this bankrupt administration to its knees!
Mind you, this is the same administration that boldly proclaimed that we have to learn to live with Covid. Well, seems we are doing just that, albeit, rather cavalierly. We have to step up our individual and collective games and act in a decidedly more responsible manner. As the highly-esteemed Val Hodge of the Shirley Heights Lookout remarked in a moving entreaty on VOICE OF THE PEOPLE last week, “We all want to be here when this is over.” So since we are living with Covid, and our Covid-related fatalities are relatively low (6), (We still grieve for our fallen brothers and sisters, may they rest in peace); why is this befuddled government threatening a shutdown? We can only assume that it is a means of coaxing those who have forsaken the old paths to come to their good senses and act responsibly. We are all dependent on it.
Meanwhile, 3 new cases per day. Hmmmmm! Just saying . . .
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