Mon | Mar 1, 2021

How well did the Government handle COVID-19? - Youth leaders grade the administration

Published:Friday | January 15, 2021 | 12:11 AMNadine Wilson-Harris/Staff Reporter
Saneisha Parsons
Saneisha Parsons
Marleen Campbell
Marleen Campbell
David Salmon
David Salmon
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Concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic has widened social inequalities, some youth leaders have rapped the Government for not doing enough to help those from the lower socio-economic class, and, in some cases making life even more difficult for the poor.

Economist Johnique Francis believes not enough attention has been placed to rural students who are without Wi-Fi and, therefore, have limited access to education.

“Students have been out of school since March. This is going to further widen the inequality gap because those who can afford it, they are continuing school, they are okay for the most part,” she said during a Gleaner Youth Editors’ Forum, held via the Zoom online platform on Wednesday to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Jamaica’s young people.

“In the same light, those same parents who have to depend on the different side hustles, whether it be waitering at a bar, selling pan chicken by the side, working in a bar itself, those persons are out of a job, their income is continuously going down.”

OBVIOUS INEQUALITY

Youth parliamentarian and public health inspector, Saneisha Parsons, said the inequality is obvious in the treatment of those who flout the COVID-19 protocols in the upper class, compared to those who are from the lower socio-economic community.

“So whereas low socio-economic class persons definitely have to abide by all the rules, we see where the richer folks do what they want and get away with it because of their background. I’m assuming it is because of their background, because that is the only difference,” she said.

Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton expressed concern last September about the concentration of positive COVID-19 cases in upper-class communities.

“Uptown seems to be, in some cases, particularly in the Corporate Area, more affected now than downtown. Not to allow anyone to be complacent downtown, but it is quite obvious that the spread in certain parts of uptown seems to be more concentrated,” he said then, during a press briefing.

Gleaner columnist David Salmon believes that while officials have done a good job in keeping Jamaicans informed, the enforcement of COVID-19 protocols needs to be more stringent. He said he personally witnessed the flouting of the protocols at a hotel recently.

“In some regard, enforcement has been lax in certain communities,” he said.

nadine.wilson@gleanerjm.com

Question: Out of 10, how do you grade the Government’s handling of COVID-19 in Jamaica?

Ashleigh Onfroy: 8

Public relations officer for the UWI Guild External Affairs Committee

I believe that they have been doing the best that they can with the resources that they have, with the affordability, with the know-how, and I think that has been reflected in the number of cases that we have.

Saneisha Parsons: 7

Youth parliamentarian and public health inspector

It is clear that the control was for some classes or a certain class more than the other, so whereas low socio-economic class persons definitely had to abide by all the rules, we saw where the richer folks did what they want and got away with it because of their background.

Marleen Campbell: 8

Vice-president of the Northern Caribbean University Students’ Union

I definitely give them an eight because they continued learning and found ways and innovations to see how it is managed.

Johnnique Francis: 6

A huge part of managing the pandemic for me, maybe because I am from that lower class, is that I believe that much more effort and attention should be placed on the lower class, the rural schools, also the persons who have to sell jerk chicken on the roadside, those kinds of people.

David Salmon: 7

Gleaner columnist

I think earlier in the pandemic, they were certainly much more attuned to what was taking place.