Let’s get serious

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We have been nothing, if not consistent, in calling for a strict adherence to the rules and protocols that have been laid down to keep us safe during this Covid-19 crisis. From the mandatory wearing of masks in public, to the social distancing stipulations, and the hand sanitising requirements, and so on and so forth, we believe that they have resulted in us seeing relatively low Covid-19 infections and deaths. May our vigilance in that regard continue.

Moreover, we salute our health authorities and the frontline workers, whom we named as the Persons of the Year 2020, for their admirable effort thus far. They have done exceedingly well, and we urge them to keep it up.

Sadly, we have been noticing an uptick, be it ever so slight, in our Covid-19 numbers, and there has been an even more pronounced surge in the numbers in some of our neighbouring territories. This is not good. In Barbados, for example, the dastardly Boxing Day bus crawl that turned into an infamous super spreader event, dealt the Bajan anti-Covid effort a major blow. It ought to be a cautionary tale to those given to reckless partying without regard to the rules calling for the wearing of masks, limited numbers at parties, and good social distancing. Here’s what the health authorities in Bridgetown had to say of that day: “[A seismic shock to the health system]. We had systems in place that were working for many, many months, but with this massive outbreak of nearly 200 cases in one day, in one 24-hour period that we detected, it really put a significant strain on our systems, and in some cases, some of our systems that were working before, broke down.” [Senior Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Anton Best, as quoted in BARBADOS TODAY]. Folks, let us pay the more earnest heed, lest we face a similar outbreak. There really is no other way to keeping ourselves and the wider community safe.

Consider the situation in Jamaica where the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Desmond Mckenzie cast blame for a rise in Covid-19 cases at heedless partygoers at raucous parties. Said the good minister, ruefully, “I can’t deny that there is value in terms of entertainment events. But under the circumstances, I think a lot of what is happening is just mere indiscipline and disregard for law and order. We have a problem, and I don’t think it’s a lack of public education.”

In the United Kingdom, a country reeling with a renewed coronavirus onslaught, compounded by a new virus variant, the situation is as bad as it has ever been. There are 30,000 people in the hospitals with coronavirus, compared to 18,000 when this crisis first began last year. The country just marked a grim milestone of 80,000 deaths, and morgues are at full capacity. According to England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, in an exhortation for people to refrain or limit unnecessary contact with others, “There is a very high chance that if you meet someone unnecessarily, they will have Covid. This is everybody’s problem. Any single unnecessary contact you have with someone is a potential link in a chain of transmission that will lead to a vulnerable person.” Folks, this is not a joke.

Even in the United States, a new uptick in cases and deaths has been blamed on a number of super spreader events like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Health authorities had urged Americans to scale down or cancel holiday travel plans, and limit the sizes of their festive gatherings. Unfortunately, many Americans ignored the authorities. To be sure, outgoing President Donald Trump added fuel to the fire with his big, ill-advised rallies where thousands of his mindless supporters (their mindlessness illustrated by their storming of the Capitol last Wednesday; another potential super spreader event) refused to wear masks. Trump’s foolish science-denial and his lack-lustre response to the Covid crisis have also been blamed for many needless deaths. Just ask President-elect Joe Biden, who has pointed a finger of blame squarely at his predecessor.    

Here in this blessed land of ours, we have not seen any such thing as a bus crawl, or a mask-less super spreader rally, but we are privy to foolhardy video footage, and pronouncements of a rather callous sort, that make a mockery of the Covid-19 protocols. These threaten to erode a great deal of our gains thus far. We’re talking about men and scantily-clad ladies cavorting on boats sans masks, and others frolicking at beach parties, again without masks, or any pretense at social distancing. And not forgetting to mention the domino and card-game-gatherings on the block, and so on and so forth. We urge those given to these types of recklessness to cease and desist from same.

The conventional wisdom suggests that we will not be getting the vaccine until about March/April of this year. Perhaps even later. It behooves us to remain scrupulous in sticking to the guidelines that have stood us in good stead. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said that even as Americans are presently being vaccinated, there will not be any semblance of normalcy – the old gatherings at parties and ballgames, and so on and so forth, until the Fall of this year. We too can think in terms of a similar timeline. In other words, we ought not to be letting our guards down and relaxing our personal safety measures, not now, or for the foreseeable future.

In the early 80’s, Olivia Newton-John sang a popular party song entitled, LET’S GET PHYSICAL. We here at NEWSCO are suggesting that that party song be ignored. Rather, we are exhorting all Antiguans and Barbudans to, LET’S GET SERIOUS! We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.

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