Still some distance to go, PMMonday, April 12, 2021
Understandably, Prime Minister Andrew Holness believes his Government has, and continues to do a good job in the handling of the COVID-19 crisis.
Inevitably, there are those who think otherwise.
But, ultimately, it's the rest of us looking on with no axe to grind — the general public — whose opinion will matter most.
This newspaper believes that, in terms of what is popularly referred to as “balancing lives and livelihoods”, the Government has so far done well.
Certainly, as the prime minister has said, the effort to keep tourism going, even at the most basic level, despite the negatives, has been outstanding.
We agree with his point that, “If you were to take Jamaica and compare it to other countries in the region, Jamaica's borders are open — we were among the first to reopen for tourism. Almost 600,000 persons have visited Jamaica since we resumed controlled entry into the country, and that is a massive impact on our economy…”
But in any crisis such as this, mistakes will be made.
For example, while we agreed with the timing of last September's parliamentary elections, we considered some aspects of political campaigning, including so-called drive-throughs, uncalled for and downright dangerous in the context of COVID-19.
On the plus side, the Government has been good in a very difficult situation in acquiring vaccines over recent weeks. However, that was preceded by what seemed a slow, hesitant approach.
Truthfully, Jamaica, like the rest of the world, is a long, long way from bringing this health crisis under control. No comprehensive assessment of our Government's work can be done until that time has come.
The current vaccination programme aimed at achieving a level of herd immunity must be pursued by the authorities as rapidly and efficiently as possible.
And, as has been said previously in this space, with the passage of time and the hoped-for control of infections, the challenge of how to deal with the medical after-effects of the illness will arise. Hopefully that will be less of a problem than is currently envisaged by some.
How quickly the country can return to some semblance of normal life, such as regular face-to-face school, the measures to be implemented to correct the reversals in education, and so forth, will all be weighed through the unrelenting glare of public opinion.
Importantly, and immediately, the authorities must find a way to lift morale and confidence among front-line workers, especially nurses, doctors, and others in health care, who are going way beyond the call of duty to help the country keep its head above water.
Yesterday's story headlined 'Health-care workers call for therapy after COVID-19' reaffirms what we all should already know: We are on a knife-edge.
Also, as has been said before here and elsewhere, Jamaicans and their leaders must come to terms in the aftermath of this health crisis with finding a way to appropriately reward the country's most essential workers, such as those in health care.
Then there is the economy. How quickly after COVID-19 is brought to heel can the country return business enterprise and employment to pre-pandemic levels?
No matter how we may view the situation, there is a distance to go before most Jamaicans will feel comfortable giving Mr Holness and his Government either 'ticky' or 'wrong bang'.
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