Lockdown too devastating; teach Jamaicans to live with the virusWednesday, February 24, 2021
A number of Jamaicans, most notable among them doctors, have re-entered the novel coronavirus fear zone on account of the spike in positive test results and a death toll that, up to yesterday, stood at 405 since the first case was reported here in March last year.
The problem with fear is that, in most instances, it debilitates rational thought. That, we believe, is what has afflicted the Medical Association of Jamaica, which is now suggesting that the Government may soon have to consider a lockdown of the country in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
The country has, in recent weeks, seen worrying spikes in the number of COVID-19 cases. Up to yesterday morning, the Ministry of Health and Wellness reported that the number of positive cases here stood at 21,826. Of that number, more than half — 13,046 — have recovered.
However, reports that the number of new infections is placing a strain on the health service, including hospitals, are beginning to scare people, even amidst the nonchalance being displayed by many in relation to observing COVID-19 safety protocols.
The fear, therefore, is understandable, but, as we have repeatedly stated in this space, fear must not dictate our response to this pandemic. Fear, as late United States President Franklin Roosevelt stated in his inauguration address in 1932, should not be allowed to paralyse the needed effort to convert retreat into advance. In other words, the only thing to fear is fear itself.
Long before the successful manufacture of vaccines for COVID-19, health experts had advised us how to successfully live with this virus. We all know that the virus will have difficulty spreading if everyone wears a mask, washes and sanitises hands regularly, maintains the recommended six-feet physical distance from other people, and avoid large crowds.
Some jurisdictions have mandated the wearing of masks and most, if not all states affected by the virus have implemented restrictions on crowd sizes and the movement of people via curfews.
A number of governments have implemented harsh lockdowns that, while reducing spread of the virus, have crippled their economies and unleashed significant hardships on people.
Here, in Jamaica, the Government has so far avoided a total lockdown of the economy. And, while that is commendable, the Administration has, in recent weeks, unwisely lengthened the nightly curfew, beginning now at 8:00 pm through to 5:00 am.
What the Government needs to concentrate on is enforcing the safety protocols, as there are still too many Jamaicans flouting the measures without prosecution. And, in doing so, the authorities must not display any bias.
Lockdown, we repeat, is not the answer to this crisis.
We again point to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development report on the impact of COVID-19, issued last November, which warned that the crisis could send an additional 130 million people into extreme poverty.
No Government should be thinking of any measure that could worsen that problem.
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