Excuses for not getting COVID-19 vaccine unacceptableThursday, February 25, 2021
The New York Times report that “Jamaica's current novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is the second-worst in the world”, surpassed only by strife-torn Iraq, doesn't sit well with us.
We are not challenging the data compiled by such a respected publication as the New York Times. Our concern is that, had the Government and people of Jamaica not allowed the virus to be running away from us, after doing such a good job of containing it at the beginning, no one could have made such a claim.
When the Times published on Monday, February 22, 2021, it claimed that the rate of infection in Jamaica had risen by 210 per cent over the last 28 days and that, marked against 22 other countries with spiralling cases, Jamaica ranked second, with only Iraq's 338 per cent increase being worse.
The US newspaper's list only included countries that had outbreaks larger than 10 cases per 100,000 people since October 1, 2020 and have a population of more than one million people, the report said.
Jamaica was 744 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, with an average daily rate of 339 new infections.
This is painful to hear, especially because Dr Christopher Tufton and his team had managed the crisis superbly until last summer and the Independence celebrations, followed by the general election campaign and latterly the Christmas holidays.
The new surge which hit us January is threatening to undo all the achievements of last year, the hard work of the health workers and the sacrifices made by the business community, our athletes, our students, and those who paid with their lives.
Jamaica was looking good to visitors after establishing 'resilient corridors' — at great cost — to help keep locals and visitors safe. Within this corridor, the tourism service delivery operators permitted to accept guests had been inspected and deemed compliant if they met the required standards of training, protective equipment, and other COVID-19 protocols now being copied by other countries.
We could have put all this behind us and looked towards a brighter day if the Government had not dropped the ball in respect of the COVID-19 vaccines, which even smaller neighbours have managed to obtain.
Whilst COVID-19 has not gone away, roll-out of the vaccine has given us all hope that life can return to normal, making it possible for people to travel for business and leisure. In the meantime, travellers are looking for the safest places to go until we get to that better place.
According to Canadian travel expert Matthew Keezer, vacationers are looking for places that have “remained stable throughout the pandemic, rather than choosing the destinations that were popular before the pandemic”.
Of course, nowhere is immune from COVID-19, but holiday-makers want destinations with fewer restrictions, which come with fewer cases of coronavirus and which, as a consequence, do not have overcrowded hospitals in the event they should get the virus.
As things are, a majority of the islands in the Caribbean are listed by the United States as “level 3 or 4” on its State Department's travel advisory scale, meaning Americans are advised to reconsider or avoid travel for the time being.
Jamaica, at level 3, does not need to be on anybody's no-go list.
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