Living with the hard reality of COVID-19

Editorial

Living with the hard reality of COVID-19

Thursday, March 12, 2020

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Radio personality Miss Khadine Hylton, better known as Miss Kitty, the Fluffy Diva, who has emerged as a bona fide comedienne, joked yesterday that, although she was expecting it, she “blacked out” upon receiving news of the confirmation of Jamaica's first case of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Like her, many other Jamaicans were jolted by the news, triggering a rush on supermarkets and pharmacies. Even though the COVID-19, as it is also known, has been rampaging through the world since December, it seemed that the reality did not hit home until Tuesday.

With the second confirmed case announced yesterday, Jamaicans are now about to experience what it is like living under a pandemic which, from all indications, will force deep and wide-ranging changes in life as we know it.

As it appears, the Government has done a fairly good job of managing the development and has effectively prepared the country for the arrival of the virus. We will see how well the measures to contain the spread of the virus work now that it is here.

Arguably, the biggest indication of how serious a situation we are in is the cancellation of the century-old 2020 Boys' and Girls' Championships. Every Jamaican knows how important these games are in the contest of our vaunted athletics history.

In keeping with the Administration's proactive approach, we expect that by the time this is published, the Government would have announced the closing of schools for a specified period, with contingency for examinations, which are coming up soon.

We also expect that the prime minister would have asked supporters of his Jamaica Labour Party to stand down from their expectations of starting campaigning for any pending elections to avoid creating large crowds. This is an important example to be set by leadership.

The distributive trade has been quoted as saying that Jamaica has enough supplies to cover the next three months. However, we hope that the rush on supermarkets and other retailers has not thrown out their calculations. We have previous experience on which to draw.

With our usual trading partners also under the coronavirus gun, so to speak, it might be difficult to get new supplies of essential goods. Some vendors have already started price gouging. We hope that the Consumer Affairs Commission will bring some pressure to bear.

From one end of Jamaica to the next, companies and institutions have been instructing or getting ready to instruct staff to stay away from the workplace and work from home where possible. Every sensible institution would by now have put in place emergency measures to protect staff and customers.

Among the difficult things that Jamaicans will have to accept are a reduction in attendance at church services, entertainment events, and cutting out non-essential travel overseas.

Hopefully, we would have already been practising good hygiene, but more people would have to make this a daily event in their lives. Posters are being placed at strategic locations on properties reminding staff to follow hygiene practices.

Some of the new practices will work for the good and may be with us long after the virus has gone, including a new relationship between companies and their staff. Welcome to the new reality.


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