Mon | Jan 17, 2022

Gov’t urged to simplify COVID-19 messaging

Published:Thursday | September 9, 2021 | 12:11 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
Anthony Dwyer (second right), producer of Early Sunday Boom in Grants Pen, St Andrew, speaks with (from left) Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, and Justice Minister Delroy Chuck, the St Andrew North East member of p
Anthony Dwyer (second right), producer of Early Sunday Boom in Grants Pen, St Andrew, speaks with (from left) Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, and Justice Minister Delroy Chuck, the St Andrew North East member of parliament, during a vaccination tour on Wednesday.

WESTERN BUREAU:

Arguing that some Jamaicans may not be grasping the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and understanding the need to be vaccinated, two Westmoreland leaders are calling for the messaging to be simplified.

Custos Hartley Perrin believes that breaking down the COVID-19 messaging will make more persons willing to take the jab and boost compliance with restrictions.

“What is needed is more education. Attempts are being made, but somewhere, mixed signals are being sent, and people are not convinced and not knowing exactly what to adhere to,” said Perrin as Westmoreland, in particular, is being hammered by the third wave of the pandemic.

He believes that there is also need for simpler language during the Government’s weekly COVID-19 press conferences.

“We need to use simpler language that people can understand. I think the only thing that has been said that people can understand is when the prime minister says, ‘tan a yuh yard’,” said Perrin.

He argued that since the advent of the pandemic, several unfamiliar phrases are still not being understood by several people.

“Immunity, herd immunity, social distancing, and all of those terms are very new to us. And the little man in the streets, he finds it mind-boggling to try to interpret and understand some of what is being said,” said Perrin.

Moses Chybar, president of the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, argues that in addition to making the messaging easier to understand, the Government should make greater use of social media to reach citizens.

“Right now what is happening in Westmoreland is chaos, so the spreading of the virus is not likely to stop like this. It’s the first day after the lockdown, the streets are crazy and it’s bumper-to-bumper traffic,” Chybar told The Gleaner yesterday.

“We need a better educational campaign so that it can reach the common man on the street,” Chybar said, calling for more virtual forums by parish or in counties, where government representatives can answer questions and address concerns specific to each region and to reassure citizens sceptical of the vaccination drive and protocols.

He applauded the move by Prime Minister Andrew Holness and other government officials to hit the streets to shore up support for the vaccines.

“People are seeing a lot of things on social media that make them worried, and they have questions and concerns for which they are seeking answers. Many of them believe those messages and have joined the [vaccine] hesitant group,” added Chybar.

According to the latest data released by the the Ministry of Health, Westmoreland has recorded 158 COVID-19 deaths from an overall infection figure of 4,498 confirmed cases.

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