Editorial | Be responsible in virus fight
We are living in uncertain times, described by the World Health Organization as “the defining global health crisis of our time”.
Because of this disruptive viral disease, people everywhere have had to make adjustments to their lives as they pay attention to the science and try to stave off the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Indeed, many people have literally placed their lives on hold while they wait out this period of uncertainty. Marriages have been postponed, funerals have been delayed, and celebrations of various types have been cancelled. Schools, restaurants, and cinemas have closed. Athletes and sports fans have had to digest the news that the Olympics will not be held this summer.
Those who were casual about hygiene practices are being urged to change their habits and wash hands regularly and keep their surroundings cleaner. We welcome the upgrading of hygiene standards, particularly in public places like our markets, and hope that post-COVID-19, some of these habits will be maintained.
Jamaicans like to touch and hug when they greet each other. Now the highly contagious coronavirus has caused the Government to urge citizens to rigidly practice social distancing. It is no longer advisable to offer hugs and kisses, as per medical warnings.
While the pandemic has shown the dedication and compassion of our political and private-sector leaders, as well as our healthcare and essential-services workers, it has also thrown a negative light on some individuals. We speak about those who continue to display a cavalier attitude to this virus, even to the point of ridiculing those who are cautious. We refer to those who have shown themselves to be selfish and reckless.
What people need to understand is that the COVID-19 disease is no longer an outside threat to Jamaica. It is here, unwelcome as it is. COVID-19 is within our borders, and we have to do everything to reduce the spread.
Our leaders have taken the right decision to restrict movements. How we interact with each other and how we do business has to change for our healthcare system would be hard-pressed to deal with an onslaught of COVID-19 cases.
We suggest that vigilance is the key to ensuring that people in your neighbourhood are practising responsible behaviour by adhering to healthcare warnings. If persons are committing breaches, these instances should be reported promptly.
With the benefit of hindsight, the current crisis has forced a look back at the weeks approaching the year 2000. It was not a health pandemic, but the world was gripped by fear and anxiety on the expectation that computer systems would fail and cripple economies and government across the globe. Preparations were made to mitigate a crisis, and the time passed without the dire devastation that was predicted. This current healthcare crisis will pass, too, although we do not know how quickly.
In the final analysis, assigning blame may not be the most important thing we can do in trying to deal with this COVID-19 crisis. Even though the reckless ones among us deserve special ignominy for their attitude, what we must do is work together with great determination to beat this virus.