Still in first-wave thinking

One-man protest by Ricardo Goolcharan, a ward manager at the San Fernando General Hospital. - Marvin Hamilton
One-man protest by Ricardo Goolcharan, a ward manager at the San Fernando General Hospital. - Marvin Hamilton

WE CONTINUE to mark grim milestone after grim milestone with regard to covid19.

Deaths have now passed 2,000. Officials say we are in a “third wave.”

But while the covid19 situation continues to rapidly develop and mutate, there seems to be fatigue and malaise all round in terms of the State’s official response; the morale of medical officials; and the propensity of citizens to take self-regulation seriously.

Vaccinations have slowed. Some doctors are claiming medics are burnt out, tired and frustrated due to the pressures on the overall healthcare system (a medical official on Monday felt so strongly about this he staged a one-man protest outside the San Fernando General Hospital).

Meanwhile, the State’s modus operandi is very much the same as it has been since day one. Media briefings and press conferences in which officials present information and issue strong appeals to the population; some advertising and collaborative outreach with various bodies; vaccination sites all over the country.

This week, the Government continued to tinker with its vaccination-site formula, expanding to furniture stores which are expected to have traffic during the Christmas season.

Such measures are laudable. But will they result in a different outcome?

If we are in a third wave, the fightback against this disease still seems stuck in a first wave. The approaches and attitudes being witnessed suggest not much has really changed since the initial stages of the pandemic, despite how much water has passed under the bridge.

The State has been bending over backwards to facilitate those who wish to be vaccinated. Short of delivering the vaccine with a medic to your doorstep, it has been offering jabs free of charge and furthermore, giving people the option of which vaccine they would prefer to take – this after some initial months when vaccine supply was tenuous.

The lucky fact that revised expiration dates have extended the life of the current stock has been a double-edged sword: it has reduced the seeming urgency of using these shots, and facilitated more of the same in terms of apathy and the strategies being adopted by officials.

Effectively, the State is using just one tool in everything that it does: moral suasion. But the effectiveness of this was exhausted long ago.

The threat of implementation of public health laws has been diluted, given the manpower limitations of the police amid a crime upsurge.

Now is the time to embrace radically new ideas.

One area it can do this in is testing. By widening the testing net, we can better identify and isolate cases regardless of vaccination status. If testing is made easier, the realities of the proximity of the danger of covid19 might better hit home.


"Still in first-wave thinking"

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