I agree with most who have been critical about the effectiveness of no-movement lockdowns.
The effectiveness of weekly three-day lockdowns is debatable. I support lockdown of non-essential businesses for a period; I support curfews, health protocols, and vaccinations. No movement, however, is extreme.
We've seen these types of no-movement periods enforced in places like Wuhan, China, where the virus first emerged and everyone was ordered to stay home. In Jamaica lockdown days create hardship for most people, especially the poor and those who hustle daily to survive. I also believe no-movement days result in panic and anxiety, as well as crowding of supermarkets, pharmacies, etc, which defeats the purpose.
Jamaicans, however, tend to be indisciplined and harsh punishment, at times, is the only option.
Lockdowns alone won't stop the spread of the virus, but it will help to lessen person-to-person interactions, while sending a strong message that the novel coronavirus pandemic is real and the Government is taking it seriously.
Ordering people to stay indoors for days at a time, however, may not be as effective as it might seem. Many countries had lockdowns without resorting to extremes – essential businesses like supermarkets were open and people were allowed to go out for walks, but with non-essential businesses closed, they weren't able to interact socially.
The focus is to limit social activities and enforce protocols. Local authorities should zero in on specific areas where spikes are evident. These areas should be specifically targeted for increased vaccination and restrictions. If spikes occur in Kingston and St Andrew and St Catherine, is it necessary to tighten restrictions nationally?
Several countries also closed their borders to restrict non-essential travel. I believe Jamaica is still too lax on border control and restrictions. Canada's borders were closed for over a year to visitors, and now that almost 70 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated, life is returning to normal and visitors will once again be allowed to enter, starting this week, if they are fully vaccinated.
The effectiveness of a lockdown cannot be measured in isolation, we must look at the big picture and all the measures being employed. Managing a deadly pandemic is complex, with many moving parts and changing information.
I've been arguing that Jamaica did not have to look far to learn lessons and prepare, considering we started managing the pandemic well. Trinidad closed its borders for over a year, the Cayman Islands also. Jamaica could not afford a full closure, but fewer flights could've helped to control arrivals and better manage screenings, as our local vaccination rate remains very low (5 per cent fully vaccinated). I still do not understand why visitors aren't required to be fully vaccinated with such easy access to vaccines overseas.
We've heard of another rural field hospital being built in a rush, but why so late? The issue of low oxygen supply, which sadly led to some deaths, was another unfortunate blunder and both Government and supplier must share the blame for not adequately anticipating the need. Again, we don't have to look far to see these problems occurring in other countries, resulting in chaos and deaths, so we should have been better prepared.