Lovell: More extensive virus measures needed

Leader of the United Progressive Party, Harold Lovell
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By Carlena Knight

Opposition leader Harold Lovell believes more extensive measures are needed for the government to get a grip on the coronavirus in light of the latest batch of new confirmed cases.

“The measures that are in place now are not as extensive as the measures say in Jamaica,” the UPP political leader told Observer.

“I think the fact that we decided to be among the first to open we should have had a duty to put everything in place to ensure the safety of our people, but I am not here to make politics of this. It is a very serious matter.”

Before the news broke, tourists and some returning nationals could self-quarantine but the government has since confirmed that all incoming travellers will now be tested and quarantined at one of the country’s bio-secure areas as standard.

 However, Lovell is questioning whether the government is in a position to facilitate the necessary virus tests and, if necessary, tests in the wider community too.

“The issue of testing is going to be very important…and so far, it doesn’t seem as though we have really brought our nation to the point where there is sufficient testing. Then there is tracing and bringing that issue to the point where everybody can feel safe.”

He is suggesting that a national contact notification programme, and even the use of apps which track the movements of those persons in quarantine, be implemented.

Lovell is also calling on the government to be more transparent in disseminating data, saying “the credibility of those sharing information is under much scrutiny”.

He was referring to Monday’s declaration by Health Minister Molwyn Joseph that the country was “essentially Covid-free” only for 39 new cases to emerge a day later.

“Is the information that is given out really reliable? The dashboard stated that there were no pending results. How is that that it never appeared that we had those results pending? People now don’t believe the information that is coming out. We need to be in a position where we can believe those persons who are speaking,” he said.

Lovell is adamant that information of this sort should be disseminated by qualified officials like doctors and scientists who would be better able to respond to questions posed by the public.

He believes that politicians should take a back seat and not rely on their understanding of the virus but let a group of scientific persons be the ones to advise them on the science of Covid and the best protocols for the country.

Despite the new cases, the government has made it clear that there will be no travel restrictions on badly-hit countries. Lovell agrees that this is the correct course of action but says travellers should be tested before boarding.

When asked for his views on the government’s decision not to implement another lockdown, the UPP leader said a full assessment of the situation would be needed before such action is taken.

“We have to look and see how the situation unfolds. I don’t think you can say we will or won’t lock down. I think you have to say, what will be the benchmark, what would have to happen for there to be a closing down of the borders?

“We still have no idea will it be 100, 1000? Again, relying on the experts and relying on those persons who have a good grip on the science of Covid, that’s where you should have that advice coming in, not just the CMO but it could be advised by the CMO.

“It should be something that is taken from the advice of the medical community and then they should be guided by that advice and not make any definitive statements,” Lovell added.

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