Editorial: Apology accepted, better strategy next?

The tail end of the line of citizens waiting outside the La Romaine Health Centre on Friday to get their first dose of the covid19 vaccine.   - Angelo Marcelle
The tail end of the line of citizens waiting outside the La Romaine Health Centre on Friday to get their first dose of the covid19 vaccine. - Angelo Marcelle

During Saturday's press conference to update the public on covid19 measures, the Prime Minister grappled with the elephant in the room early, offering an "unreserved" apology for the gaffes of last week while accepting responsibility for the failures of the ramped up effort at vaccination.

Politically, it was a week of own goals, as the government slammed home one procedural error after another, leaving the opposition scrambling to keep up with retorts and responses.

Dr Rowley specifically apologised for the errors of Wednesday, which saw crowds lining up in super-spreader sized crowds outside health facilities identified as sites for a new walk-in, first-come, first-served attempt to increase the rate of vaccination.

The government, admitted the PM, had tried to do "too much with too little."

He didn't mention Thursday and Friday, which saw citizens desperately defying early morning curfew hours to arrive at the front of the line for vaccination.

For reasons that remain unexplained, a rationing of just 50 vaccines was sent to each site, leaving hundreds of hopefuls unhappy and annoying those who showed up on all three days only to remain vaccine free.

There was cautious good news from the medical leadership of the covid19 team, as the rate of infections dropped by 30 per cent along with the number of patients in direct care in the parallel health care system which is at 60 per cent occupancy.

While the statistics show a plateau, they remain high and aren't demonstrating a sustained downward trend yet.

The Health Minister relaxed restrictions by allowing limited access to bookstores, art supply outlets and hardware stores to meet emergency needs, but retail outlets remain shuttered.

Weeks into a national curfew and under enforced restrictions of movement and congregation, the nation remains some distance from reversing the surge that shuttered businesses and turned our cities and towns at night into ghosts settlements.

The new plan to be executed from Wednesday shows a welcome acknowledgement of the egregious errors of last week.

Patients 65 years and over who are already registered will be contacted directly for appointments to get their vaccines. The "vaccinate to operate" plan gets more attention with half of the vaccines allocated from today's scheduled arrival of 200,000 doses of China's Sinopharm, specifically targeting workers who are exposed to the public in the private and public sector.

The public is likely to accept that mistakes will be made in these unusual times and will appreciate quick, clear acknowledgements of error.

What will define the government's response going forward is how well and effectively it learns from these stumbles, particularly when the mistakes put the lives of vulnerable citizens at risk.


"Editorial: Apology accepted, better strategy next?"

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