This crisis requires creativity in thought and actionMonday, August 30, 2021
For Jamaicans, mental depression has become even more of a constant, given the daily calamitous news as the COVID-19 third surge takes flight.
Weekend reports of extreme shortages in medical oxygen have made the situation worse.
Yet, we can't lose sight of hopeful signals — such as that vaccine hesitancy appears on the wane.
We hear that in excess of 500,000 Jamaicans have now received at least one vaccine dose and that the country is on target to vaccinate 700,000 by the end of September.
And, even as we criticise obvious inadequacies in strategising and forward planning by those in charge, most opinion leaders should be credited for speaking with one voice on vaccines.
Applause is due to the political Opposition for standing firm with the Government and health practitioners in urging Jamaicans to get vaccinated, even while pointing to perceived weaknesses and flaws in policy, planning and implementation.
Likewise, business leaders are proactively moving to help their workers get vaccinated. Also, religious leaders have pledged to do their part in getting the faithful to accept vaccine efficacy.
In that respect, word that leaders of Jamaica's Jehovah's Witnesses have embraced the vaccination programme and are encouraging members to get their jab is excellent news. This is against the backdrop that many of us have viewed Jehovah's Witnesses with annoyance for their objection to some medical procedures including blood transfusions.
However, Jehovah's Witnesses leader Elder Peter Scudamore tells us that, “Many Jehovah's Witnesses have made the personal decision to be vaccinated…”
And further that, “[R]eputable medical studies have shown that those who are fully vaccinated have added protection against the virus, while those who remain unvaccinated must be more cautious…”
Obviously, this pulling together that is increasingly evident among opinion leaders will be critical to getting the great majority of Jamaicans to take the vaccine, which is seen as a must if COVID-19 is to be contained.
Crucial, too, are maintenance of protective protocols including mask-wearing, social distancing, and sanitising. The experts are insisting that even after full vaccination people should abide by the protocols, since there are no guarantees.
Very importantly, the authorities must be consistent in applying the restrictions in relation to curfews and no-movement days, etc. Allegations — as have come to the fore from time to time — that there are differing approaches depending on who, undermine credibility.
Also, it seems to us, the authorities should be prepared to swiftly switch approach when circumstances change in order to avoid defeating the purpose of the various restrictions. Take, for example, last week's unstable weather which forced most people to stay at home, even after the three-day 'no-movement' ended. It meant that, for many people, shopping had to be restricted to Friday and Saturday.
Not unexpectedly there were crammed supermarkets, shops, and market areas as people rushed to stock up ahead of the current no-movement period which started yesterday. Inevitably, there was also overcrowding of public transportation.
To prevent such a predictable situation, wouldn't it have made sense to relax curfew hours on Friday and Saturday?
It's not easy, but this crisis calls for creativity in thought and action.
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