Sun | Oct 25, 2020

Letter of the Day | Improve our COVID-19 plan

Published:Thursday | October 1, 2020 | 12:14 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

Commendations to the Government for the transparency it has shown in the management of COVID-19, especially in the first stages of the pandemic. We, however, need more concrete information on the way forward as community spread and deaths increase. What are the short- and medium-term plans? Are we simply sitting around waiting for a vaccine or are we exploring the role of therapeutics (medication) which can negate the impact of COVID-19 in the early stages?

In terms of the hospitalisation and death rates, the countries in Africa are seemingly doing much better than expected. Perhaps the Caribbean should be focusing more on countries like Uganda. Uganda has 44.27 million people and its total death from COVID-19 is 75. How are Jamaica’s COVID deaths being reported? Dying with COVID-19 is different than dying from COVID-19. Hopefully, this distinction is being made in our released statistics. In some Western countries there have been instances of persons dying in motor vehicle accidents and inexplicably these deaths are attributed to COVID-19!

The science supports a physical reopening of schools. The current state of affairs of online learning is going to exacerbate what the late former Prime Minister Edward Seaga famously called ‘the two Jamaicas’. The protocols can be followed and have schools reopening safely. It may seem strange to some, but schools are the only safe place for some students. The abuse of children not only in Jamaica but worldwide has skyrocketed during the pandemic. Predators are more likely to attack when they know that children are unable to report the matter to their trusted teachers and guidance counsellors.

The Government also needs to relook at the regulation regarding funerals. It is culturally insensitive to say no funerals can be held. If public gathering is limited to 15 persons, then 15 persons can also be allowed to gather in a formal shortened service as well. Before this stipulation, a number of churches were conducting funerals responsibly by observing the required protocols. Prior to the latest regulation, I went to pay my respects at one of these services and the COVID-19 protocols were fully observed. The funeral was slated to start at 11 a.m. but persons started viewing the body and giving their condolences to the family by 9 a.m. The ushers at the gate ensured that persons paid their respects and then left in an orderly manner. Only the designated numbers were allowed to stay for the actual service. If persons can vote safely in Jamaica, then persons can pay their final respects to their loved ones in a safe and dignified manner.

I call on the Government to provide answers on the short- and medium-term plans to deal with COVID-19, especially in the area of therapeutics.

MARSHA THOMAS