Inconsistencies in applying protocols can undermine anti-COVID fightFriday, August 13, 2021
The death of a registered nurse who worked at Percy Junor Hospital at Spalding on the border of Manchester and Clarendon in central Jamaica underlines the crisis as the latest surge of the novel coronavirus takes hold.
On behalf of all Jamaicans, this newspaper joins those expressing sympathies to family, friends, co-workers, and all who knew her.
This country is heavily indebted to our health workers on the front line, who are putting their lives at risk for their people. We have said before in this space, we say again, that the pandemic has made clear the necessity for a radical rethink of how health workers and others on the front line, including police and educators, are treated and rewarded.
The nurse's passing has added to the demoralising situation in the health sector as hospital admissions multiply and bed space disappears.
That the World Health Organization (WHO) has approved major international trials of three drugs to find out whether they can improve the condition of hospitalised COVID-19 patients is welcome news. However, important though such medication could turn out to be, it's obvious from what has occurred globally that the game-changer remains vaccines.
With announcements of vaccines to come from varying partners, it does appear that finally there will be a steady flow into the country for the immediate future.
However, as has been said repeatedly, vaccine hesitancy is a major problem in Jamaica as elsewhere. The Government's use of public education, rewards, and more recently taking vaccines to people in their communities should continue.
Also, the allied campaign of encouraging obedience of safety protocols, such as mask-wearing and social distancing, should be maintained at all costs. Together with that must be appropriate examples from those able and privileged to influence others.
In that regard we were taken aback by videos and news reports of Olympic hero, 110m hurdles gold medallist Mr Hansle Parchment on a motorcade tour of St Thomas meeting and greeting overjoyed residents. Our understanding is that the event was organised by a local group, presumably with the approval of the authorities since there appeared to be police escort.
It begs the question whether Mr Parchment's tour and interaction with residents fitted with current protocols under the Government's Disaster Risk Management Act. An intervention by respected medical practitioner Dr Paul Wright objecting to motorcades and arguing that returning Olympians should be quarantined seems well placed.
Ironically, obviously fearful because of the surge in virus cases and the near certainty that the Delta variant is circulating here, the authorities have denied permission for spectators — not even the fully vaccinated — to attend the West Indies vs Pakistan cricket Test match which started at Sabina Park yesterday. Indeed, even journalists were denied accreditation. Television and radio broadcasters are the only media personnel allowed into the historic ground for the two-Test series.
We believe that inconsistencies such as are very obvious here must be avoided by the authorities if they are to maintain and build credibility in these most challenging times.