Is the lockdown helping to reduce Covid cases? My neighbor is currently hospitalized. A few weeks ago, his uncle died from Covid. Only a few days ago his nephew recovered from Covid after self-quarantine. Another villager is in hospital and yet another is self-quarantining after contracting the virus. The latest news that more than 49 Tobagonians have been tested positive points to the reality that the lock down is not working.
Is the press conference hosted by the government stage managed? More so, are reporters being paid by the government not to ask probing questions? It is in the public domain that media houses are being paid to attend daily press briefing by the government. And more so, that the government selects the reporter they wish to have from the media houses.
This explains why so far Dr Rowley’s claim that he was infected with Covid 19 was never probed by the media. No reporter bothered to ask him what were the symptoms he experienced? Or, ask him to share with the public the steps he took to recover? No such questions have been asked!
Our government needs to put aside its PR and take strong action to arrest this pandemic. For a small country of 1.3 million the number of deaths is alarming. With 14 new deaths and another 546 infections, the question must be asked: Does the Ministry of Health have the competence and commitment to fight this pandemic?
Three simple rules are critical to reducing the number of infections. They are as follow: follow the protocols- wear masks, sanitize and practice social distancing; implement a vigorous testing program and step up on the vaccination drive. It is good news to hear that Tobago is going to increase testing after it suffered another 49 infections.
It is the lock down helping to reducing the number of infections and deaths? If the number of daily infections continue to rise, then the lockdown is not working. Lockdowns did not help the states of New York and California which were the two hardest hit states in the US.
In New York, Americans pleaded with the mayor to open business but he refused to heed their cries. More than 250,000 New Yorkers migrated to other states; 140 hotels went empty and more than 900,000 lost their jobs.
It is now being predicted that post Covid New York will have a more youthful and less wealthy population. It is also being predicted that office space is going to shrink and the only hope is that tourism will pick up soon and lift the economy.
Another state that was hit with the pandemic was California. Again, the Mayor did not heed the appeals of businesses to keep the economy open. With one in three restaurants shut, it is predicted that California would take another five years to rebuild its economy that is heavily dependent on tourism.
Contrast New York and California with Florida and there is a vast difference in administrative style. Florida did not shut down businesses but kept them opened. Social distancing was a major trust in its strategy. The focus was to look at the data on the ground and where there were reports of Covid cases, citizens were alerted to stay away. Today Florida’s economy is booming…it is the place to be!
The shut down in T&T is not working. Self-employed citizens are at a disadvantage. In fact, T&T has always been on shut down given its low productivity. The people that produce in T&T do not come from the State or formal private sectors but from our self-employed citizens – farmers, fishermen, taxi-drivers, construction workers, mechanics, painters etc.
Our government does not think beyond its support base and financiers. This explains the long delays in its procurement of vaccines. Any progressive thinking government would have encouraged open tender. But this is how our private sector has been doing business since colonial days. It is solely because of monopoly and preferential treatment that they have been able to flourish, thus explaining the weak procurement legislation to keep the 1% at an advantage. This state welfarism business culture is worse than Covid 19 and must be uprooted. The current lockdown is being enforced to knock out the informal economy to give the PNM financiers a further advantage. This is best demonstrated in the closure of roti shops and the opening of bakeries. No roti…eat bread!