A dangerous phase

CONFIRMATION of a new covid19 case, while imported, should remind us of the need to have stricter adherence to the regulations in place, even as some measures were yesterday lifted.

A frightening number of people have just let go, abandoning whatever personal precautions they had taken. This was evident even before the Prime Minister’s announcement on Saturday.

In the past week, hordes of people have violated the no-more-than-five rule. Many have been liming or ambling around the Queen’s Park Savannah, or scaling Lady Chancellor Road in groups, mere inches apart. Elsewhere, masks seem to be going out of fashion. Quick.

This cannot continue.

Exercise fanatics may feel they are entitled to abandon their masks. But they would do well to heed the advice of health officials who have repeatedly urged them to work out at home if they can’t breathe properly through the fabric. Perhaps the authorities need to spell out the rules more clearly.

Ironically, it is the success of TT’s strategy so far that has contributed to a sense of complacency. Wishful thinking has lulled some into feeling the pandemic is over or that it wasn’t really a big deal in little TT. Such thinking is foolhardy.

We need only look at our neighbours, like Jamaica, or even further afield, in the US and UK, where reopening is not a sign of the conquering of the virus.

On the contrary, as people go back to work in those countries, the deaths are piling up, posing a terrible dilemma. Remain unemployed or risk death?

Countries like Iran, which began to ease its restrictions in April, have since experienced a spike.

On the horizon may well be a second wave.

It all points to the fact that, in many ways, this period is the most dangerous phase yet, given how people will be put in environments in which lax maintenance of rules could put them at risk; given the psychological factors – including the need for release – that could encourage people to underestimate the threat; and given the emergence of conflicting data which troubles the global timeline of this pandemic.

Sadly, exchanges in Parliament last Friday suggest covid19 remains a heavily politicised matter here. While Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh is correct to suggest the death tolls for the months of January to March in the last three years (3,002, 3,107 and 3,052 deaths) potentially debunk the notion of “hidden” covid19 victims, these figures need to be disaggregated and confirmed.

The State would do well to heed the advice of the World Health Organization (WHO), which has asked member states to carefully investigate early cases. With a raging debate in Europe, where scientists believe the disease may have been smouldering as early as November 2019, we need to also expand the range of our local inquiry.

Far from easing up, we must now get to work.


"A dangerous phase"

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