Saturday Express Editorial

THE country is not at the juncture at which we need to panic, the Prime Minister told us yesterday, as he soberly assessed where we are in what was a relieving and critical adjustment to the Covid-19 guidelines.

It was not a moment too soon, as Dr Rowley took to the podium at his news conference, announcing a revision of a few protocols in place to mitigate the damage to the society by continued movement of the virus.

He was speaking in the shadow of the discovery of five new positive cases, with the overall figure now at 169.

“We are not in a situation that many people think,” he said, remarking on the level of anxiety caused by the almost daily uptick in these numbers over the past week. He said there was, strictly speaking, no case of “community spread”.

But, he told a nervous population that some measures were necessary to seek as effectively as possible to contain the movement of the virus among the population.

Speaking on the issue as he sought to put the latest details into context, public health physician Dr Avery Hinds made the point that for the most part, the virus was travelling in “clusters” , without necessarily any links from one to the other. He said also that from investigations, the increase in infections was the result of “hanging out,” as well as the improper use of protective measures.

During her turn at the microphone, Dr Michelle Trotman re-emphasised the importance of holding fast to what she called “the fundamentals” in the battle to contain and to defeat the virus and its potential for spreading. Hand sanitising, social distancing and the wearing of masks remain among the absolutes, as citizens are being implored to keep their guard up. She said touching and embracing each other remain inadvisable.

Among the adjustments Dr Rowley announced was the move to set up a rotating system of work in the public service, and the possible management of the public transport system. These are designed to regulate and to monitor the number of persons moving about in the public. The challenges with the opening of bars and the number of patrons who must be accommodated at any one time is also a matter of critical focus. Public gatherings will now be scaled back from 25 to 10, in any single group. He said it was a question of balancing the risk, “with the rewards of keeping the country open.”

Putting the country on notice, the Prime Minister said while it was expected that these measures will produce desired results, the administration will not fail to act decisively again if it becomes necessary

It is a measured, calculated approach to keeping the economy running, with all the potential for further widespread hardships associated with further lockdowns and closures, as we have already experienced.

Citizens are encouraged to continue to heed the warnings, and to play by the established rules. We must continue what is a national resolve, ultimately to preserve lives, to protect the vulnerable, to safeguard our health systems and to keep the society functioning as optimally as is possible in these uniquely challenging circumstances.

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When I first entered the world of newspapers in the mid-eighties, it was as a cub reporter at the Express. Physically, the newsroom was quite different from what it is today. The technology and production techniques would be unrecognisable now.

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