David Abrikian | Can we recover from a third COVID-19 wave
For the 57 days preceding July 19, with the exception of one single day, the number of daily COVID-19 recoveries in Jamaica exceeded the number of daily new infections, and as a result, the number of active cases was steadily brought down from over 23,000 on May 23, to less than 3,400 on July 19. This was an amazing accomplishment if ever there was one, and the medical fraternity in Jamaica simply cannot get enough commendation and praise for having achieved this.
The common COVID-19 phrase ‘flattening the curve’ refers to reducing the rate of infection, which is obviously a desirable objective. But a reduction in the number of active cases at any point in time, which, in addition to infection rate, also takes recovery rate into account, may be an even more positive indicator, as not only will fatalities be reduced, but so will the demands on the health sector.
However, the trend mentioned earlier has started to change, and in the last five days, July 20 to 24, the directions have been reversed; daily new infections have gone convincingly ahead of daily recoveries, so that the number of active cases has now started to significantly increase.
If this trend reversal was merely a ‘passing abnormality’ it would not be too bad, and we all want and hope this to be the case. But, unfortunately, it is much more likely to be the beginnings of another upsurge in new infections (upsurge in hospitalisations and fatalities) as the undetected, unrestricted spread of new cases that have been surreptitiously developing and ‘ripening’ since the July 1 ease of restrictions reach full ‘maturity’ and start to show themselves.
SURFACING OF INCUBATING CASES
What is happening now simply appears to be the surfacing of all the COVID-19 cases that have been incubating since the mingling started on July 1, 2021.
And there is nothing the Government can do about these cases, except try to treat them as they emerge, because they are already embedded in the populace, just waiting to spring to the surface as the virus’ symptoms become apparent. The testing can, and no doubt will, go on as usual, but these infections are simply out there, out of reach for the time being until revealed by testing, symptoms, or both, just waiting to occupy the various quarantine locations, hospital beds, and graveyards.
The most the Government can do is bring back the restrictions and watch, with fingers crossed, touching as much wood as possible, hoping that this new upsurge, which it is almost sure to be, is containable. What about prayer? Prayer always helps, and the Almighty overflows with mercy and forgiveness. And our Father works along with us as much as we allow Him to. But He works along with us best when we work along with Him, an endeavour which, in addition to faith in His capabilities, can also benefit from wisdom, common sense, and an acknowledgement of the prevailing circumstances, all of which, in this situation, seem to have taken a slight leave of absence.
The truth is that the lockdowns and restrictions have resulted in innumerable inconveniences, varying in both quantity and intensity, and great gratitude needs to be shown to the many companies, agencies, groups and individuals who have acted in ways to alleviate the suffering experienced by others. But at the same time, none of these resulting hardships have taken the life of anyone (please correct me if I am wrong), while COVID-19 has so far killed nearly 1,200 persons.
Apart from the risk that has now been returned to the country, what is grossly unfair, and possibly even cruel, is the intensified demand that will again be imposed on Jamaica’s medical fraternity, who have worked with such measured diligence and consistency to bring down COVID-19 cases in the island to where they were a few days ago.
Of course, the possibility of an upsurge should never even have risen. Because if the experiences of other countries, along with that of ourselves, together with the advice and urgings of many in the society had been taken with even a grain of seriousness, then the extent of the July 1 ease-up would have been much more limited, if there was an ease-up at all. Further, no upsurge need have occurred in Jamaica at any time. The first one of lasting significance erupted after the essential free-for-all during Independence celebrations and the general election in 2020, and has continued without mercy since then. The medical fraternity has been combating that upsurge for nearly a year, and having brought it down to what can only be described as amazingly low levels, is now going to find themselves against an unnecessary resurgence of same, as the Government again insists on testing its own Ministry of Health and Wellness.
One final word to the Government – please listen to your critics. Not all of them are political pundits trying to embarrass you, or party loyalists trying to win cheap political points. Some of them may actually have your best interest at heart, yours and the country’s, and may want you to succeed in whatever you do, and are simply trying to point out where they think you can do better for the country’s sake and for yours. Check them out and peruse their comments and suggestions. You have nothing to lose and, as unlikely as it may seem, could actually have something to gain from their annoying assertions.
David Abrikian is a civil engineer. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.