By Shanea Johnson
It is no surprise that we have been seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases and an increase in related deaths. According to the Star, Prime Minister Andrew Holness reported on Tuesday, September 8, that there was then a total of 34 COVID-19 deaths. He added that 15 had other underlying illnesses while the remaining 19 deaths were persons over 70 years old. I am not surprised at all, but it is sad for those who have lost loved ones due to this pandemic.
There are a number of factors that have contributed to the rise in number of cases and deaths. The first obvious factor that I believe contributed to the rise in cases was the extravagant celebrations that some Jamaicans were engaged in after our 2020 General Election on Thursday, September 3. I have seen a number of videos circulating showcasing activity during this period and for a moment I had to wonder if Christmas had come early or if it was Christmas Eve’s ‘Grand Market’ where friends and family come together for a night of shopping, partying and festivities. People were gallivanting and gyrating on each other, playing loud music and might I add NO ONE in these videos was wearing a mask. I could not believe that these people seemed to have forgotten all about COVID-19.
Another factor that may have contributed to the increase in cases is that some persons are simply not observing the rules outlined by the government. Under the Disaster Risk Management Act, “Burials are permitted with only 15 persons at the burial site”, yet, I have seen funeral services with more than 50 persons congregating and conversing even without masks. Parties are being held and some persons are setting up small sound boxes and as we know, many Jamaicans love music – it’s what brings us together oftentimes.
It is high time that people start taking this pandemic more seriously and stop acting as though they are naïve and oblivious. Hosea 4:6 reminds us that “My people perish because of lack of knowledge…” This should clearly show us how important it is to gain knowledge and to use it for our survival. I honestly believe that the Jamaican Government has been working relentlessly to lessen the spread of the virus. Obviously, our government cares about us and wants what’s best. We are the ones making things worse because some of us are not observing the protocols that were stipulated by the government. We need to take responsibility for our own actions.
I am aware of the nightly curfews and fines imposed on those who violate the COVID-19 Protocols. Maybe our government needs to take drastic measures like imposing higher fines and even flogging those caught on the road after curfew hours. Some people will only adhere to the protocols if they have someone over them with “a big stick”. Just maybe, setting an example out of someone will drive some fear into the minds of others and they will conform to the rules. After all, it is for the greater good of the people.
I can only imagine that within the next month or two the 3,183 cases will have increased as well as the 34 deaths. Our government is going to be more concerned but will have to brace itself for this escalation and consider imposing stricter restrictions.
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