Constant stream of COVID-19 bad news depressing, but...

Editorial

Constant stream of COVID-19 bad news depressing, but...

Monday, October 12, 2020

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Make no mistake about it, the barrage of information on a daily basis about the COVID-19 rampage is extremely depressing for everyone.

The sense that the scientific experts are struggling to even come to terms with the true nature of the threat, much less to take decisive preventive/curative action, is just as disheartening.

Just yesterday, for example, came news that recent scientific studies suggest that in cooler temperatures COVID-19 can remain infectious on surfaces such as banknotes, phone screens, and stainless steel for 28 days. That's far longer than previous research had indicated.

That the threat, according to the latest research, still appears to be less potent in tropical conditions such as exist in Jamaica is encouraging, but it's cold comfort for those who must work in air-conditioned environs.

As we have said, it's all very depressing.

But, as part of their sacred responsibility, mass media outlets have no choice but to keep passing on the daily statistical reports faithfully provided by the authorities in Jamaica and elsewhere; as well as report on other related developments, be it good news or bad.

At bottom line, information/knowledge is empowering, allowing people to make correct choices. Even when the information makes people feel bad, it helps to prevent complacency and indiscipline.

We believe that those who are made aware that the virus is on the increase in their parish or community are much more likely, than would otherwise be the case, to wear masks and adhere to social distancing recommendations.

Our own observations suggest that since the sharp surge in COVID-19 cases in Jamaica in recent weeks, and the resulting publicity, there has been much greater adherence to mask-wearing in public, though some individuals still obstinately refuse.

We note other irrational, antisocial behaviour, such as people breaching protocols to trespass on the closed Two Sister Cave attraction in Hellshire, St Catherine “for family outings, drink-ups and daytime parties”, described in yesterday's Sunday Observer.

We suspect that much of that flows from a sort of rebellion as the many pressures and difficulties brought on by the COVID-19 realities take toll.

To put it in simple language, the current situation is driving some people crazy.

For that reason, as said before in this space, special attention to mental health is crucial.

Recently we applauded the Government's initiative to make special provision for rest and relaxation time for health workers.

Similarly, we believe the COVID-19 mental health response programme, being done in partnership with the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), to provide community-based support as well as create ease of access to mental health services through community engagement is laudable.

As explained by Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, while people are being protected from the virus “we are creating another set of challenges that affect their mental health and stability”.

Hopefully, the minister's call for more people in so-called civil society to come forward to help the more vulnerable with counselling and related support at the community level will bear fruit.

Now more than ever before in living memory Jamaicans need to be their brother's keeper.


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