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Business as usual in SVG

Business as usual in SVG


TEENAGERS FROLICKING on the beach; churches holding picnics; mourners turning out in large numbers at funerals; those ordered to self-quarantine having house parties and being observed out and about; idlers sitting shoulder to shoulder on the block or in each other’s faces around the domino table; the Government’s sport department issuing an invitation to children to participate in a series of hikes around the country — all of this happened within the last three days — signifying business as usual in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

From this, one would not believe that over one week ago, the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment issued an advisory, warning about the dangers associated with being in too close proximity to others and of being in gatherings of more than about 25 people, as the world battles the COVID-19 pandemic.

But then again, two weeks ago, even before that advisory from the health authorities, members of the public clamoured for the early closure of schools and for the country’s borders to be closed.

So the schools have closed and some workplaces have instituted shift systems among employees. Supermarkets and financial institutions are models of good order, calm and hygenic practices.

It is puzzling therefore, while we insist on physical distancing at work, at school, and while we conduct business, these requirements do not seem to apply to our social interactions. Do we not recognise our danger!

Over the weekend, the police had their hands full chasing down recent arrivals to the country, some of whom had reportedly been breaking their mandatory self-quarantine. Why should the resources of the police force have to be used to make our people act responsibly in as serious a situation as is the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fact that we so far have had only one confirmed positive case here should not make us complacent; we must keep our guards up, as we know the sneaky nature of this deadly virus. Let us use this temporary reprieve that we have been given to strengthen systems to protect ourselves and minimize the impact of the virus on our health and economy.