Let’s stay realistic while urging people to be careful

The recent Level 4 classification of Jamaica by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States underlines the need for Jamaicans to do their part in keeping a lid on the spread of the novel coronavirus here.

We note concern from tourism leaders that the negative report, which has Jamaica on a list of 180 countries, is likely to dampen expectations of a surge in tourists for the upcoming winter season.

The overall context, of course, is that the pandemic is continuing its advance.

Yesterday, confirmed COVID-19 infections globally were said to have surpassed 62.1 million. We are told that more than 1.4 million people across 196 countries and territories have died, while 39.5 million have recovered.

In Jamaica, five more COVID-19 deaths were confirmed as well as 40 new cases of the virus over 24 hours. That brought the country’s death toll from the novel coronavirus to 256 and the total number of cases to 10,709.

While talk in recent weeks of promising vaccines being developed in the industrialised countries represents positive news, any such impact remains distant, especially for countries like Jamaica which are on the margins.

That’s the context in which Prime Minister Andrew Holness last week urged the nation to recognise that “these are not normal times, and we will not be able to celebrate Christmas in the normal way this year…” as he announced adjusted curfew measures for the holiday season.

In the circumstances, this newspaper has no option but to support the Government’s plan for gathering limits to remain at 15 in public and private places and continued prohibition of parties and events.

We believe the curfew from 10:00 pm to 5:00 am each day during December makes perfect sense, as does the tighter measures of 7:00 pm to 5:00 am for the public holidays.

It truly makes sense for Jamaicans to celebrate this Christmas at home.

Obviously, it will be incumbent on people to be their brother’s keeper and, as much as possible, urge others to practice all the precautions, including mask wearing, social distancing, and sanitising.

Beyond that, we note the prime minister’s call for Jamaicans who have made the decision to come home to avoid visiting relatives.

Said Mr Holness: “I am not here saying don’t come. I’m saying if you don’t need to come for Christmas, then reconsider it. If you decide to come, then go to the resilient corridors and help our tourism industry, but don’t leave the resilient corridors to come and look for grandma and auntie. Maintain the protocols. And if you come, there is a strict quarantine protocol in place under the Disaster Risk Management Act for 14 days.”

We understand the concern, but we believe the prime minister is being unrealistic if he expects Jamaicans coming home to not visit “grandma and auntie”. Nor is the already overworked and understaffed constabulary in any position to comprehensively enforce the Disaster Risk Management Act in all its aspects across the country.

We, however, appeal to those individuals to remember that “grandma and auntie” would be among the people most vulnerable to the virus.

At bottom line, we believe the authorities should keep insisting and urging, consistently, repeatedly, that our Jamaicans coming home, as well as those already here, exercise the greatest possible care for the good of all.

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