The dangers of a lockdown

Letters to the Editor

The dangers of a lockdown

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

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Dear Editor,

Two calls for a complete lockdown of the country were published by the Jamaica Observer yesterday. The views expressed by both writers Rajeve Brooks, a microbiologist, and Councillor Hubert Williams from the White Horses Division in St Thomas appear, at best, to be alarmist.

Both writers, I believe, have not thoroughly thought this situation through. However, I can understand their anxiety, as COVID-19 cases in the island are spiralling.

But even as I recognise and accept that we need to take action to keep the numbers down, a total lockdown of the country is not the answer, because there are too many risks associated with that.

First of all, as your editorial yesterday pointed out, “COVID-19 has reminded better-off Jamaicans of the desperate 'hand-to-mouth' poverty and ignorance in which far too many of their countrymen and women are embedded.”

The editorial was also spot on in pointing out that social distancing is ludicrous to the average informal, itinerant vendor selling odds and ends in order to make enough money to buy dinner for the family, as well as to the poor consumer who must buy from day to day, since there is never enough money to stock up on food.

A total lockdown, I submit, would be a huge disadvantage, and even prove life-threatening to those Jamaicans. We run the risk of them resorting to antisocial actions out of a need to feed themselves and their families.

I believe where the Government went wrong was to ignore the advice to make it mandatory for everyone to wear masks when the virus first hit our shores in March. People may argue that that measure would be difficult to enforce, but I can't see anyone ignoring that mandate if they were excluded from accessing public transport and turned away at stores and other places of business if they were not wearing masks.

In fact, even without the wearing of masks being law, we now see many Jamaicans, out of fear of contracting the virus, donning masks.

It is not too late to act on the mandatory wearing of masks. Additionally, I believe that the Government should look at extending the curfew hours from say 4:00 pm each day to 7:00 am the following day. That would prevent a repeat of the chaos we saw last weekend in St Catherine where the lockdown has so far not worked.

Norman Martin

Kingston 8

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