Sat | Dec 14, 2019

Editorial | Leave fogger crews alone!

Published:Saturday | November 30, 2019 | 12:17 AM

Jamaica is in the midst of a dengue outbreak, with scores of deaths and hundreds of persons showing symptoms, so it’s an urgent national priority to attack and destroy the mosquitoes which bear this disease.

We now see that one of the most effective ways of destroying the disease carrying vector – fogging – is under attack in some inner city communities.

It is completely nonsensical to attack these workers physically and/or verbally. The fogging crews are there to destroy the mosquito population. Will they get them all? Not likely, for while the fogging will destroy the mosquitoes, the larvae remain in various breeding sites such as ditches.

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton appears puzzled that the workers are being treated in this manner. And, frankly, we share his amazement. He said, “The message has to be sent clearly that these are persons doing a public good. It’s an essential service, we have an outbreak and they should be allowed to do their job in the interest of the public.”

Fogging has been judged to be an effective method of thinning the adult mosquito population. However, if there are breeding sites like trenches and containers in a yard, fogging will not destroy the larvae. This means that homeowners have a responsibility to get rid of potential breeding sites and clean up any area in their yards which will harbour mosquitoes.

The pungent odour of the pesticide used in the fogging exercise is not pleasant, so it would be considerate if the authorities were to notify communities of their fogging routine so persons could remain indoors.

If the residents continue to attack fogger crews, then the next step is to have police personnel accompany these crews. It’s a criminal offence and persons could suffer serious injury. How, though, can we justify diverting valuable resources which ought to be dedicated to the galloping crime wave to protect workers who are doing a community service to prevent a problem turning into an epidemic?

This is insanity, we submit. We are disappointed that influencers in these communities have not stepped in to denounce the actions of the few and ensure that this pattern of abuse comes to an end. Given the broader implications for the entire nation, we urge those with community interest to do their part to minimise the risk of foggers to acts of violence as they carry out their work.

UGLY NATIONAL TREND

We have used this space from time to time to call attention to the current pattern of intolerance for law and order in society. The arrant lack of respect for authority is evident all around.

The police officers on the beat are being challenged and assaulted. Disrespect has spilled over into the schools, with teachers being tested to their utter limits by students who feel they have a right to self-expression, however offensive it may be.

Sadly, the tone is being set in our Parliament, too. Representatives hurl insults at each other and it is not unusual for a session to represent a near brawl, with members engaged in name calling and shouting matches.

These inner city communities are, therefore, following an ugly national trend. We need to find solutions to these worrying occurrences. The attacks on foggers have implications for the community and, as always, it is the vulnerable ones who suffer the most.