Jamaica United Against COVID-19
Jamaica, as with the global community, is contending with the challenges of living with COVID-19. Many countries, including Jamaica, are trying to find the balance between the reopening of our economy, our borders and containing the spread of the virus.
This is particularly important, to avoid overwhelming our public health facilities and the hardworking public health officers, doctors, nurses, ancillary staff, and our security forces who put themselves at risk every day.
It was inevitable that as we took an agreed risk-based approach in opening our economy and lifting restrictions on domestic and international movement that we would see cases of COVID-19 increase. Prior to, and simultaneously, with these challenging circumstances, the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW), our public health officials, health professionals and workers, have, and continue to, build out the capacity to manage surges in a herculean effort to isolate and contain the spread of the virus with the increased movement and economic activity.
Salute our Health Professionals
We must acknowledge and provide unqualified support to the MoHW, our Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and the other health professionals – especially our doctors, nurses and ancillary workers on the front line of COVID-19 for their courageous efforts to keep Jamaica safe.
Supply Chain Disruptions
Health professionals have persevered even while facing shortfalls from time-to-time in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Tests/Reagents due to logistic challenges and supply disruptions.
However, we are grateful for the budgetary allocation from the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service and the support from the private sector in their efforts to minimise any disruptions in supply.
While it is debatable whether an election should have been called, as it does add further layers of risk, we are grateful that the period of campaigning will be short and that this event will be behind us in a matter of days.
We, however, appeal to our political leaders and supporters to follow the rules and to heed the advice of our medical health associations (Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ), Jamaica Medical Doctors Association (JMDA) ) in observing the protocols for campaigning and election day and to make every effort to use virtual tools to minimise the risk to their supporters and the Jamaican population.
We also have to acknowledge our security forces (Jamaica Constabulary Force and Jamaica Defense Force) for their efforts with limited resources in managing the COVID-19 restrictions on movement, while managing the crime portfolio; especially as the State of Emergency (SOE) in various locales have been lifted. Jamaicans must take continued personal and collective responsibility for our safety and wellbeing.
It is impossible to ask our security forces and the MoHW to manage the spread of the virus through the enforcement of protocols and restrictions in movement across the length and breadth of Jamaica. We, therefore, as individuals and as communities must take responsibility and ensure that we are observing and practising the infection control protocols, wearing our masks and practising physical distancing to minimise the spread of the virus and to protect the lives of our most vulnerable.
Risk to Economic Recovery
We cannot have our cake and eat it; if we are not disciplined as a people, the recovery of the economy will be jeopardised and it will be the average workers and micro and small businesses, that are the most vulnerable, that will bear the pain of reduced economic activity.
Flexible work arrangements
In light of the current surge, we are encouraging businesses where possible, to implement flexible work arrangements in allowing staff members to work from home and reduce movement to decrease the risk of the spread of the virus.
As a country, we have to face this pandemic with united efforts. We will have glitches and missteps as we learn and self-correct in moving through unchartered waters.
We absolutely cannot approach this divided as a people. This ongoing fight of the unseen enemy of COVID-19 cannot be politicised. We must be our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper in ensuring that returning Jamaicans home-quarantine for the prescribed 14 days. Let’s move forward as a united nation!