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Devon Dick | Calm in the midst of COVID-19

Published:Thursday | March 19, 2020 | 12:17 AM
Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton engages in a tête-à-tête with Prime Minister Andrew Holness at a Jamaica House press briefing, where the prime minister declared the island a disaster area yesterday.
Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton engages in a tête-à-tête with Prime Minister Andrew Holness at a Jamaica House press briefing, where the prime minister declared the island a disaster area yesterday.

A few days ago, there was a report that some taxi drivers refused taking nurses (as their clients) to work, for fear of exposure to these nurses as carriers of COVID-19. This is short-sighted because these nurses might be needed to attend to them and help their relatives when they contract the virus.

Therefore, one of the most important things is to remain calm in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. It is good to recall that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1: 7). Do not panic, but rather make wise decisions based on the best research and in-depth analysis in order to implement workable solutions. Panic based on overreaction, false evidence and irrational fear is not good. Panic weakens the immune system and makes one more susceptible to COVID-19.

The Government’s ban on gatherings of over 20, with a penalty of $1 million or imprisonment of 12 months, will hit funerals hard. Some deceased men have two or more families. Who decides which of the families will attend? Who will be fined $1million? The family members, the pastor of the church, or the person leading the service, or the preacher at the funeral? Not to mention that Meadowrest Memorial Gardens has limited the number of burials to 15 per day, with no more than 15 family members at the graveside.

In addition, it would be good for the Church, with the widest network in Jamaica, to use time in worship services to provide public education on COVID-19. Last Sunday, at Boulevard Baptist Church, Dr Stacy-Ann Brown, a medical officer, gave an excellent 15-minute presentation in which she gave a practical demonstration of proper handwashing, and also step-by-step procedure on how to self-quarantine. Furthermore, it would be good for churches, Food For The Poor, and the Salvation Army to continue distributing food packages and medical help to the neediest in our society.

Economic anxiety

The Church needs to find ways to minister to people who are facing economic anxieties, and comfort those attacked by panic. Many church members serve the elderly and ill on a weekly basis, and this will be curtailed. Perhaps a new theology on prayer and its efficacy beyond borders will be needed and appreciated.

Panic leads us to discriminate against others who need help the most. The public education around persons living with HIV facilitated discrimination against those persons, and so the public education campaign had to be tweaked. Now, a similar thing is happening with persons who have contracted COVID-19, as well as with their family members and the communities from which they come. That will have to be the next phase of the public education to eschew discrimination against the elderly.

The public education should assertively tell Jamaicans that by year end, one million Jamaicans will likely be infected. Of that number, 96 per cent of Jamaicans will likely recover, aided and abetted by the fact that God made our bodies wonderfully, so that we can fight viruses and diseases. Only about four per cent of the persons who contract COVID-19 might die, mainly because of pre-existing conditions.

The Church can help people prepare for death, and for all to recognise our mortality. Jamaicans must be prepared to learn to coexist with COVID-19 and not live in fear of the virus, or any other disease.

I pray that all Jamaicans will experience peace which passeth all human understanding as we seek to contain and coexist with COVID-19.

Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of ‘The Cross and the Machete’, and ‘Rebellion to Riot’. Send feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.