By Romell Eubank
Jamaica has been seeing a surge in its number of coronavirus cases, with daily results hitting triple digits and the total number of cases being 6,832 as at September 29. Total deaths have also reached triple digits with the latest results being 101.
The fight against this pandemic requires unity – a collective effort from both the government and citizens. The government has been playing its part by implementing safety measures and ensuring the population is well-educated about protection from the virus. There are many outstanding citizens who have been co-operating but the current surge is a result of delinquency on the part of some citizens.
Many Jamaicans still refuse to wear a mask and many who do, wear it improperly. They refuse to understand the fact that wearing a mask is the cheapest and one of the most effective ways to help prevent coronavirus transmission. While I believe it is not a good idea to prosecute citizens for not wearing masks in public, it seems that measure will soon become necessary.
In a situation like this, I would equate refusing to wear a mask to the crime of conspiracy to commit murder because refusing to wear a mask is a decision to put fellow citizens and loved ones in danger of becoming infected with a life-threatening virus. Given the fact that many of our citizens have chronic, non-communicable diseases such as asthma, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and heart disease, they are at an increased risk of dying from COVID-19. Therefore it is safe to say that it is a crime to consciously not wear a mask knowing that this action increases the risk of citizens with chronic illnesses becoming infected with the coronavirus and standing a greater risk of dying from this disease.
Another reckless action by citizens is the hosting of parties and entertainment events that facilitate large gatherings. Many persons attending these events often show disregard for social distancing and mask-wearing. This is straightforwardly putting one’s self and fellow citizens at risk considering that we have reached the stage of community spread in this pandemic.
Persons have further worsened this situation by damaging vehicles of police officers who earnestly try to enforce the measures implemented by the government for our safety. In one recent incident in the community of Seaview Gardens officers were stoned when they attempted to stop an on-going party.
‘Change or die’ is becoming a necessary warning as it is quite literal in this time period. If we continue to disregard safety guidelines, the death rate due to this pandemic will increase. Pastors, entertainers, and many others who continue to spread conspiracy theories and encourage persons not to wear masks must now change and encourage persons to obey the rules being set that are meant to protect us. Many of us have underlying conditions that we are not even aware of. Some of us have weak immune systems that might fail help in recovering.
Even if delinquent citizens don’t die those who they come in contact with might die. The warning is plain and simple: We cannot continue to gamble with our lives.
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