Although the Grinch stole the joys of the festivities of Christmas, now that the season is over, I can’t help but reflect on that classic calypso by Black Wizard, ‘When the carnival over’.
As we enter the first month of the New Year, citizens of this beautiful tri island state must be concerned about this land because now the festive season is over there is still the need for a brighter day.
Now that we have done all the shopping, cooking and drinking, the nation’s problems would not go away, Covid-19 will still be with us, the problems of national governance will not go away, and we will still be confronted by social and economic challenges.
After listening to public health officials give an update on Covid-19 and reading a statement from Sandals resort, I was overcome by trepidation at the possibility of the current situation here in Grenada, becoming a public health catastrophe.
When I heard one of the public health official’s deceptive response to a question posed by one of the journalists on whether there was a breach of the protocol at Sandals or a design flaw, a sense of foreboding came over me.
Rather than be forthright, with the nation, and admit there was a design flaw in the protocol that allowed tourists who entered the country on the basis of a negative PCR test, taken three days before travel, to remain at their hotel or villa for the duration of stay without taking a second test four to five days after, the official tried to conceal the truth with a long winded nonsensical diatribe.
The fact is because of the thirty percent false negative result of PCR testing, three out of every ten tourists who arrive on the island could actually be positive for Covid-19. Therefore, allowing tourists to enter and stay at hotels and villas on the basis of just one PCR test is giving the virus an opportunity to spread from tourists to hotel workers and then into the community.
This is the same official who said, ‘I will not play Russian roulette with people’s lives’. Equally disturbing is the subtle indication given by the official that flights from the UK will be considered after the current travel ban expire.
After designing the entry protocol with a big loophole that allowed the virus to spread from tourists to hotel worker and into the community, a badly broken health system with only ten beds allocated to Covid patients, no state isolation facility, limited human capacity and therapeutics to treat infected persons, flights from the UK, source of the new strain of Covid-19 that is more easily spread, will be considered. How much more reckless and irresponsible can health officials be?
The official and his team had almost a year to expand the number of bed capacity to treat Covid patients and provide a properly equipped isolation facility to isolate confirmed cases that are asymptomatic, however they did nothing.
To date, Grenada only have ten beds available to treat persons infected with the virus and no State isolation facility. Compare this with forty four beds in St. Vincent, one hundred and twenty six beds in St. Lucia, two hundred and twenty beds in Barbados and one thousand beds in Trinidad and Tobago to treat Covid patients.
In additional to treatment, Grenada does not have a dedicated State facility to isolate persons that are infected but have no symptoms. There is a limited number of personnel, doctors and nurses, to treat patients should they become symptomatic.
Our testing facilities and laboratory technicians were overwhelmed during the recent outbreak that stretched to the limit contact tracers. Imagine a virus spread from multiple clusters and sources of community spread on the island.
After listening to the health official and his two minions and hearing their comedy of lies, missteps and misinformation, I became filled with fear as the prospect of an intense community spread looms large over our nation.
The recent instances of persons entering the country with a negative PCR test then testing positive days later, infection of hotel workers and the litany of testing missteps, suggest the need for serious reconsideration of the mandatory period of quarantine.
Rather than concede the timeframe for conducting the second test which ought to be mandatory for all visitors, including tourists to the island, the health official cynically suggest that quarantine does not cure persons. I then asked myself, when can we expect a brighter day in the health sector?
After listening to another public official on the Grenlec matter boasting that they were able to get a reduction in the price paid for the shares, I realise that the problem of national governance would not go away.
How can the official gloat when WRB paid fifteen million dollars for fifty percent of the shares twenty six years ago?
After making super profits for most of those years WRB sold their interest to government for sixty three million United States dollars. The same official admitted that the market value of those shares were close to thirty million dollars. Additionally, the official has not fully explained the source of the funds used to buy back the shares.
After indebting Grenadians for generations for what appears to be a vendetta, through a frolic of his own, the official added further insult to injury by treating citizens with utter contempt for not clearly revealing the source of the funds used to buy back the shares.
I realise that our problems would not go away now that the festive season is over and we all as citizens must be concern about this beautiful land especially when one sees the high levels of unemployment and underemployment, particularly among the nation’s youth.
The increasing pockets of poverty and the number of children going to bed hungry in this country, we must realise that our problems will not go away now that the festive season is over.
We must think about our children’s future, particularly with the constant disruption in classroom teaching caused by government’s botch attempt to protect the island from Covid, now that the festivities are over. It is high time that all citizens should think about the nation’s welfare now that the festive season is over.
With the impending return of travellers from the UK, source of a mutated strain of the virus that is more easily transmitted and continued acceptance of travellers from the United States where the virus spread is nothing but catastrophic, and the mutated strain is spreading also like wildfire, Covid 19 is not going to go away.
We must think about our children’s health and future because the mutated strain, which is spread by shorter exposure to lower viral loads and have a higher ratio of children to adult infections, is already in Jamaica.
The health system infrastructure is dilapidated with a dismal provision of health care services, our children are made to travel on public buses crammed shoulder to shoulder with adults not wearing masks and with no mass testing to ascertain if there is community spread through asymptomatic carriers, we must think of our nation’s future.
When sixty three million United States dollars were used to buy back fifty percent of shares that admittedly worth thirty million dollars at market value because of a personal vendetta, while Princess Royal hospital does not have a ventilator to treat patients in this time of Covid and there is only ten beds on the island dedicated to treating Covid, we know the problem of national governance would not go away. We must all think about the nation’s future now the festivities are over.
When mothers and fathers are struggling to put food on the table for their children, youth unemployment has skyrocketed, the nation’s pristine, prime lands are being given away to foreigners from the east, agriculture in steep decline, and crime and violence on the increase, we know our problems are not going away, therefore as citizens, we all have to be concerned for this island.
Because now that the festive season is over this beautiful land of ours still needs a brighter day.