Mon | Sep 20, 2021

Letter of the Day | No more unnecesary deaths

Published:Thursday | March 18, 2021 | 12:22 AM


This call is likely to fall on very closed ears. Like mine, the voices making it are not those of prominent politicians, top business people, leading bankers, or outstanding professors. It is a call for an action not taken at the right moment, which was months ago. Many other countries also failed to take it, but are trying now to correct their mistake. It is still not too late for us, either.

It is a call for immediate lockdown of the country for a month, with strong enforcement of protocols - very strong. It is the only way to escape the present and worse-to-come logjam, a genuine catastrophe. Ponder the fact that our hospitals are bursting with the rapidly increasing hospitalisations and will very shortly be out of crucial PEP supplies and staff. Ponder the rapidly growing number of deaths. Then, couple those data with the fact that several months will pass before a large enough pool of people will be vaccinated.

This combination of data means one thing for sure: in those several months of waiting, more people, plenty more, will be carried into hospitals, and more people, plenty more, carted out to burial homes and cemeteries. There is no escaping the reality of the course we chose to be on. We will sorely regret it, if a change of course is not instantly taken.

A lockdown will be a harsh reality, without a doubt. Nobody wants enforced ‘homestays’, much idleness and more hunger. These have to be softened by food packages to families in deprived communities (with the SDC helping to identify them), money grants to every working adult, tablets and Internet access to every schoolchild, along with increased Ministry of Education and TV programmes, education on home-making and craft-work that can be tried during homestays.

‘Bracketing’ partisanship for a moment, just consider what Opposition Spokesman on Finance Julian Robinson supplied by way of the supportive data for these remedies

• How small, compared with those of our Caribbean neighbours, is our spend on COVID;

• How many of our schoolchildren are without the digital tools of learning;

• How much hunger the rising prices of basic food and of vehicle fuel is causing.

The basic truth is this: we must secure the nation’s health before, and in order to secure a functioning economy. There is no way around this reality. We have to work with it. We must not allow more unnecessary deaths. The elderly- the first to die - for all their physical weakness, carry and embody much of the nation’s accumulated wisdom.