PM says PNP cannot manage COVID crisis

PM says PNP cannot manage COVID crisis

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

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Prime Minister and Jamaica Labour Party Leader (JLP) Andrew Holness has accepted that his Administration's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic could affect its chances on September 3 when Jamaicans vote.

But Holness yesterday told journalists that his Administration is much more suited to handle the crisis than a People's National Party (PNP) Government.

Speaking after he was nominated to contest the St Andrew West Central seat, Holness also scoffed at critics who have chided him for calling the general election six months before the constitutional deadline and while Jamaica is facing a new wave of COVID cases.

“We are transitioning from the containment of the pandemic to learning to live with COVID, so you have to go on with your life,” declared Holness.

“You can't allow your institutions to collapse, you can't allow democracy to break because of COVID, and you can't allow the economy to collapse because of COVID. Which is why we stress the infection control and prevention measures [such as] wearing a mask and social distancing.

“This is something that you are going to hear for the next year. This is something that you are going to have to integrate into our school curriculum, this is something that you will have to see more ads [for] during the campaign,” added Holness.

He charged that the PNP's performance over the years shows that it would have struggled to deal with the pandemic.

“This is my personal view, and I am not being political, but if you were to judge them on the management of Chikungunya, on the management of all the other… health care events. If you were to just look at the track record of the PNP managing crisis, I worry.

“The truth is, if the PNP was managing the country during COVID it would be much worse, and nobody can question that. Their history and track record show you,” added Holness.

According to Holness, in deciding to call the election he looked at New Zealand, where Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that she is delaying the country's parliamentary election by four weeks from September 19 to October 17 because of the resurgence of COVID in the country.

“[These are] two different political considerations, but we have made a decision that we have to move ahead because… I think we can move ahead safely. I think the strategies that we have put in place, in terms of whenever we see an outbreak, we jump on it right away.

“The public can never say we have hidden anything from them regarding this pandemic. Every issue, we have put it out there, the public understands. So even during the [campaign], [when] the situation regarding St Thomas came up, other governments might have said, 'Leave it, keep it quiet. It might affect the campaign.' But we put in measures to control it.

“So the public can rest assured that even in the campaign, if measures are necessary, I am prepared to take them,” declared Holness.

The prime minister said members of his team who have potentially been exposed to COVID-19 would be quarantined, and he is encouraging candidates to immediately get tested once they feel ill.


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