Wed | May 27, 2020

Letter of the Day | Curfew with a purpose

Published:Wednesday | April 1, 2020 | 12:26 AM


When I heard the prime minister’s announcement of a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. to commence on April 1, 2020, I wondered to myself, “is this tomfoolery?” In fairness to the Government, I do believe that they are trying, but this last one, I really cannot fathom the reason or purpose of just having a curfew in the middle of the night when the majority of persons are home anyway.

Ever since it was announced that the first person was identified to be infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), naturally, most persons began to go home quite early and would be home by 8 p.m., even without the enforcement of any curfew.

In my neck of the woods, these days, if you are out at 8 p.m. you may have to walk home, as most of the taxis would have already stopped working, either out of fear of the disease or due to a lack of passengers.

If the reasoning behind this latest move is to restrict the movement or reduce the gathering of people to stop the spread of the virus, then why have a curfew when everyone would be home anyway?

My strong belief is that the main purpose of the Government, the Ministry of Health and ultimately, the main stakeholder, the people of Jamaica, should be:

• To identify all the persons who are at present infected with the virus.

• Quarantine and isolate those who are found to be carrying the virus.

• Stop or prevent the spread of the virus once the persons infected are identified

How does this latest move of a curfew in the night even remotely seek to achieve any of these objectives?

Since we decided to mount a curfew, then curfew with a purpose. Now that this virus is here, then we must be prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to get rid of it and weather this storm of a worldwide shutdown for the next three or four months so that we can be the first to start to recover economically and otherwise.

I believe that the Government took too long to close the ports and stop the entry of people into the country, as they should have moved to lock out the virus, but instead they have chosen to lock it in. But let us not cry over spilt milk, as that is really water under the bridge at this present time.

Let us curfew in such a way that when persons are asked to be in their homes, the authorities can multitask and send medical personnel to the homes of first the persons closest to those already found to be infected with the virus to conduct the necessary tests, and then move to those who weren’t believed to be exposed over the period of the curfew time.

If we are serious about identifying those who are at present infected to stop the spread of the disease, then, ultimately, more and more will have to be tested over a shorter period of time.

I am calling on the powers that be to revisit this latest move, and since we are putting the country under curfew, let us do so with a view to stop movement for a season so we can use this action to achieve those objectives outlined earlier.