The National Democratic Congress urges all our people to remain calm as we brace for the impact of the world wide pandemic, COVID-19. With the number of infected people and related deaths recorded worldwide continuing to increase, COVID-19 is having catastrophic effects on many countries and communities.
Here at home, we are yet to record our first case of the virus and that buys us some time to prepare as fully as possible. A number of our Caricom neighbours have already recorded cases so it is only be a matter of time before we record our first case.
We have heard of a case in St. Lucia where the person diagnosed with COVID-19, was in Grenada for 7 days prior. The Minister of Health confirmed that in that case, the patient exhibited symptoms while in Grenada and chose not to seek medical attention here. More worrying, he said that some persons who were in contact with her, are exhibiting certain symptoms. These people have been tested and the results are yet
to be received. The NDC endorses the Minister’s urging to all, to observe the protocols issued and to act responsibly and as though the disease it already here. Indeed, it quite possible that we may have cases that have not been diagnosed.
Government has notably intensified its efforts to curb and contain the spread of the virus. The NDC has been in contact with the authorities, we have already shared some perspectives with government and we have been contributing to the public awareness and education campaign. We will continue to do all we can to join forces as we face this crisis together, as one people, one nation.
With the well-known weaknesses in our healthcare system, it is now the responsibility of every Grenadian to reduce the risk of infection by following the general guidelines and protocols issued by the World Health Organization, the Pan-American Health Organisation our local health officials. Wash your hands often with soap and water, avoid crowds, practice social distancing (6 feet apart), and avoid shaking hands and
other personal contact as much as possible. Also, the NDC urges all Grenadians to pay particular attention to maintaining healthy living. Eat healthy foods and exercise daily.
We must all do our part in ensuring that additional pressure is not placed on the healthcare system with persons having other unrelated complaints.
As regards the necessary step that Government has taken to close all schools, we congratulate the schools that have put measures in place to ensure that our children continue with their schooling. NDC suggests that our internet service providers step in at this point and connect all students to the internet, either by providing free or concessionary data packages or installing internet service in more homes. This will allow all our students and teachers to stay connected and continue with their schooling using their smart phones, laptops and tablets.
We also encourage employers to exercise understanding and compassion as some parents may have no choice but to bring their children with them to work, since schools have been closed, but not work places. Other able family members should also help our children with their study at home.
The NDC takes note and supports the release issued by the GUT on 17th March. We salute our teachers who continue to provide instruction to students while at home. We urge reasonableness and understanding by the Ministry of Education officials.
Victimizing and making our teachers the enemy is becoming too much the norm these days; and it all stems from the teachers standing up and insisting on their right to pension and gratuity guaranteed by the Constitution. We urge on Government, especially in this period, to cease the acrimony towards our teachers. In many respects, they are our heroes!
Instead of making unreasonable demands on our teachers, what Government should now be doing, is working feverishly to deliver on its election promise to supply every Grenadian child with a tablet and also working with our internet service providers to get every child and every teacher in Grenada online, so that teaching and learning can continue with minimum disruption.
The NDC has been co-operating with government in facing this crisis. We recognise this as a national, not a partisan issue. As we hope and pray for the best and stand ready and able to continue to support the efforts of the Ministry of Health if the crisis worsens.
(The above reflects the views of the main opposition National Democratic Congress led by former Education Minister Franka Alexis-Bernardine)