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Lockdown measures don't work, says Dennis Chung

Sunday, September 19, 2021

KINGSTON, Jamaica — Even before Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced relaxed COVID-19 measures on Wednesday, popular social commentator Dennis Chung reiterated his position against lockdowns aimed at curtailing the virus.

“They do not work," he told OBSERVER ONLINE.

“The measures cannot work, it’s not possible for the measures to work,” Chung stated emphatically.

Chung, a chartered accountant who sits on several state boards, pointed out that in every other country where lockdowns have been implemented, once they open up, they are confronted with a rise in infections “because it’s a virus”.

“Secondly, if the incubation period is five to 12 days, how does a three-day lockdown help you?” he asked rhetorically before answering his own question. “It doesn’t help you”.

Chung acknowledged that a minimum lockdown of two weeks would be needed to defeat the virus but conceded that the country “cannot afford that”.

He pointed to the Scandinavian country of Sweden which avoided a lockdown and also conceded that they had a lot of deaths at the onset of the virus towards the end of 2019 and early 2020.

“But they are back to normal now despite the mistakes they made at the start in not protecting their nursing homes where people are more vulnerable,” Chung argued.

Chung also pointed to Australia which he described as having a “huge lockdown” but which was hit with a surge in new infections once the authorities took steps to reopen the country.

“The only two long term solutions are natural immunity (having contracted the virus and recovered) and vaccine immunity.

“In the interim (until those two things are achieved) what we need to have is strong enforcement of the existing protocols,” Chung stated.

He argued further that with the high daily positivity rate hovering at just under 40 per cent on average, a lockdown will not help Jamaica at this time.

But, he conceded that “The biggest impact of the lockdown is on the economy”.

Chung also argued that four weeks after the Government implemented four sets of three-and-half-days of lockdowns, which ran from 6:00 pm Saturday until 5:00 am each Wednesday, hospitalisations were in the region of 500 for COVID-19 patients.

“Today, after four weeks we have hospitalisations of more than 800…and we have had positivity rates above 40 per cent on some days”.

And Chung said lockdowns could prove to be counter-productive in another way as people usually rush together in droves to conduct business at the different establishments once they are open, including banks, pharmacies and supermarkets, on the days when they were allowed to move. He noted that individuals often ignore social distancing requirements thus potentially contributing to the spread of the virus.

“You have a three-day work week and four days of economic activity with curfews already in place nightly restricting hours for business so you’re putting more and more people into less space.

“If you're asking people to stay home for three days, people who don’t have the income to buy long term, you are asking them at the start of each three-day lockdown period to go where everybody crowd up to stock up on supplies,’ said Chung.

The Government has since abolished the three-and-a-half day lockdown period and relaxed the nightly curfew hours as of Saturday, September 18.

The nightly curfews now run from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am Monday to Friday and from 6:00 pm Saturday until 5:00 Monday morning with Sunday being the no-movement day. The measures will remain in force until October 28.