By Latrishka Thomas
“Stay inside” is the phrase reverberating throughout Antigua and Barbuda as the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 continue to climb on the mainland, and local youth Members of Parliament (MPs) are reiterating that point as they endeavour to “spread the word and not the virus”.
News reports from around the world have been making it clearer that young people are not immune to the coronavirus and, as stated by the World Health Organization (WHO), the choices made by young people can be “the difference between life and death for someone else”.
Thus, the youth MPs from the National Youth Parliament Association of Antigua and Barbuda (NYPAAB), are discouraging complacency about health and precautionary measures.
Member of Parliament for the All Saints East and St Luke constituency, Esquire Henry said that he has noticed that “most young people are not really taking this period — the two weeks we got from school — seriously”.
In fact, he said that, “most are still going to the beach and still going outside to play sports, as well”.
Henry is therefore reminding youngsters that “they have elderly [relatives] and they can be carriers of the virus and seriously harm people”.
Similarly, youth MP for St Paul, Jahmaal Frederick, is encouraging young people to remain indoors as much as possible and “to continue to stay focused and think positive”.
“I want you to also use the time wisely, to do your online classes and get your assignments done. I want you to continue to practice mental and physical fitness. Also find ways and means to entertain yourself like using apps like TikTok,” he recommended.
Youth MP for All Saints West, Tre Joseph, also advised youngsters to utilise their time in constructive ways.
“You should use this opportunity to develop a hobby that you may have, or to learn a new trade, learn something that would be beneficial to you when this is all over … use this opportunity to make sure that you understand, to make sure that you’re ahead of the class so that when this is all over, you’re in good standing,” he said.
Furthermore, the St Peter Youth MP, Chaneil Imhoff, raised a very important issue in emphasising the importance of mental health throughout this crisis.
“I’ve been doing a lot of self-care; taking care of my mental health and not consuming a lot of the media that’s out there. Unless it’s coming from the WHO, or a trusted source, I don’t want to hear it, because a lot of times we go and research and say, ‘okay, this amount of people died today, this amount of people contracted the virus today’, and it becomes an information overload,” she remarked.
Meanwhile, Kezron Jackson, youth MP for St John’s Rural West, explained that online learning is a challenge, especially for those without internet access and said that, nevertheless, young people should prove that they are indeed the leaders of tomorrow.
“I believe that, as a nation, we will get through this and that we, the young people of this nation, have to show leadership during this time, given that we are the future. We are the future leaders of this country and we need to act like it,” Jackson stated.
Recently, the WHO warned youth worldwide that they are not immune to the pandemic, noting that youth are of the mistaken belief that they will not get sick from the virus because of their age. The Director General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said, “You are not invincible,” as data shows younger adults are also being affected by Covid-19.