Thank you, CMO, H&WM, PM

Thank you, CMO, H&WM, PM

Monday, June 01, 2020

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Dear Editor,

Over the past two weeks we have seen thousands of Jamaicans practically bracing on the doors of the nation's borders to come in to the island. This after the Government closed the borders to protect the population from the novel coronavirus which is now a pandemic.

It is quite ironic that many are fleeing to Jamaica. This situation could be very well described as “colonisation in reverse”, as typically Jamaicans would spend hours in the line at the US Embassy to get a visa for the 'Promised Land'. It's understandable, though, given that the US and the UK are currently epicentres for the disease.

In the midst of the crisis and chaos Jamaica is somewhat of a haven, so to speak. Though we have over 500 cases to date, the situation, in my estimation, has been better handled here than in the UK and the US. The fact that persons are demanding to be let in is a testament to this. In fact, I have seen tourists on TV saying that they feel safer here than in the US at this time. Imagine that!

I can very well imagine how stressful it must be to be locked away in a cabin at sea for an extended time. However, I wish to remind our seafaring brothers and sisters that it is the very measures that they now resent that made Jamaica a more desirable place for them to come home to. If we hasten to relax the measures for repatriation, as being demanded by some, our situation may become worse than the US and the UK, as we have far less resources.

Many Jamaicans, like myself, have no other country to run to and escape. I urge the ship workers, therefore, to be patient and understanding and to think positively.

I wish to say thanks to our Chief Medical Officer Dr Jacqueline Bisasor-McKenzie and her team for helping Jamaica to weather the storm and cauterise the virus spread. Thanks also to the Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton for his strategic thinking and leadership. Thanks also to other ministers of government, in particularly Minister Desmond McKenzie, Minister Kamina Johnson Smith, and Dr Horace Chang for the part they played in containing COVID-19.

Finally, and by no means least, I must say thanks to Prime Minister Andrew Holness for his leadership.It is always easy to criticise our leaders whenever they mess up. That, I believe, is par for the course when you put yourself up to lead. However, I believe it is equally important to say thanks. Encouragement sweetens labour. Jamaicans love to criticise and, generally, we tend to put down our very own. In fact, I believe one journalist had suggested that the prime minister should include someone with expertise in his Cabinet to handle the COVID-19 crisis. Well, I can tell you that US President Donald Trump could do well to have Prime Minister Holness and Minister Tufton in his Cabinet right now to teach him a thing or two.

It is true that a prophet is never honoured in his own country. Recognition for how the Government is handling the crisis has been touted elsewhere on at least two occasions that I can recall, yet very little acknowledgement has come from us in Jamaica to whom it matters the most.

Well, Holness, if no one else says it, let me say thank you very much. I urge you to keep on doing what you are doing, Sir. Listen to the criticisms, but don't become daunted as Jamaica is looking to you to help us to continue to remain safe. It is now up to us Jamaicans to do our part and to continue to observe the measures to keep our numbers down.

I wish to beg our ship workers, in particular, to look beyond yourselves and consider the greater good, your families, and the rest of Jamaica, and be patient with the repatriation measures to keep yourselves quarantined until the recommended time has passed.

Jeanann Bartley

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