Express Editorial : Daily

With 16 deaths and 882 new positive cases in the first four days of the month, there is now no time to be distracted by anything else but the need to stop Covid-19 in its tracks. These figures indicate that we are at a completely different stage.

The Brazilian variant has changed the game and requires a new set of rules if we are to protect ourselves, save lives and prevent a full-blown crisis that topples the health system and the economy.

There are only two ways out of this crisis: one is the vaccine and the other is to avoid every avenue of exposure to the virus.

Given that roughly seven per cent of the targeted 700,000 persons have had one vaccine dose, with only 196 of them (.02 per cent) having had two doses, we are extremely exposed to this virus.

In the current spiral, there is no window for waiting for the next shipment of vaccines. The dreaded moment is upon us and the option now is to avoid the virus like the proverbial plague. Even those who believe they are practising Covid-19 protocols must recognise that the Brazilian variant, now in community spread, has shifted the goalpost on us.

With scientists all over the world still trying to understand what makes this variant more infectious and more deadly, the best we can do for now is to arm ourselves against it.

Our plea, therefore, is for everyone to treat the rest of this month as a period of national emergency requiring individual sacrifice. It will be a mistake to believe that this spike is like any other we have experienced. Not being required to go to work because of the shutdown of non-essential operations and the retail sector is no reason to catch up on other things that require you to go out. The insidious nature of the Covid-19 virus, especially the variant, means just leaving the security of your home is in itself a risk.

This virus has succeeded in devastating the world by slipping into our daily routines. To outsmart it we have to deliberately disrupt our own routines. For the next three weeks, we should all think more than twice about whether we really need to leave the house and take the risk of becoming infected and carrying the virus back home.

This newspaper has had many differences with the Government over its management of the Covid-19 pandemic. We criticised its border control strategy for its punitive and excessive focus on air travel while leaving the southern coastal back door open to uncontrolled illegal immigration with the inevitable landing of the dangerous Brazilian variant. We repeatedly bemoaned the absence of an effective, culturally relevant communications strategy designed to encourage behavioural change. More recently, we have questioned whether the package of public health regulations is enough.

Today, we put all this aside to focus on the one important issue.

We are in the eye of the pandemic storm and the only thing that will save us now is our willingness to make the sacrifice of simply staying at home.

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April to May 2021 has been the most significant turning point for Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. About month after the Easter frolic, we have reached the highest recorded numbers of cases per day since the start of this pandemic in March of 2020.

Already assailed from the outside by overwhelming demand from Covid-19 patients, the public health system is showing signs of internal cracking.

Saturday’s announcement by the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) of the “temporary suspension” of “all hospitals and in-person (face-to-face) services”, except pre-natal and childhood immunisation, triggered waves of anxiety throughout south Trinidad.

AN oft-forgotten definition of sadism found in any dictionary is “the getting of pleasure from inflicting physical or psychological pain on another or others”.

Irresponsible behaviour is not only about disregarding pandemic guidelines but also the seeming “sickness” of some who derive morbid pleasure from the unfortunate affliction of others, whether through contracting the Covid-19 virus or having friends and family die from it. Individually or organisationally, such unwelcome attitudes affect all.

I have awoken to the truly sad news of the passing of one of this country’s and the region’s greatest medical doctors and scientists, Prof Courtenay Bartholomew. I am filled with grief, for he was one of the greatest influences in my medical career, a mentor and true friend.

I reflect on the people of our rainbow country and on our apparent problems conforming to the instructions issued by our Government whose members are pleading with us for help in trying to beat the spread and destruction of the novel coronavirus. Indeed, you can call our perceived attitude foolish, selfish, uncaring, lawlessness, don’t-give-a-damn or possibly all of the above, but the end result of your choice of attitude may have you facing what you may not want or expect.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh’s cheap theatrics fools no one. According to Deyalsingh, he was driven to tears when he saw someone drinking alcohol in public during Covid-19. He was so moved that he had to pull his car aside and cry, one tear.