The information coming out of St Vincent & The Grenadines is that the island’s NATIONAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT ORGANISATION (NEMO) which is the equivalent of Grenada’s National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) is playing the key and leading role in the fight against the deadly coronavirus.
THE NEW TODAY has seen press releases from NEMO in the neighbouring island with respect to information given to the public on the Covid-19 situation in that island including the data on infections, deaths and hospitalisation.
However, in the case of Grenada, our NADMA is missing in action and seems to be a dormant organisation under the leadership of current Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and his junior, Senator Winston Garraway.
It is clear that the Vincentian Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has put in place a far better and superior system to tackle the deadly virus than his opposite number in St. George.
A NEMO bulletin put out on Monday night listed the number of deaths in St. Vincent from Covid-19 at 17 but in the Spice Isle the figure is around the 100 mark.
Grenada is paying a heavy price since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic as Dr. Mitchell and his ruling New National Party (NNP) administration have been displaying a selfish posture of “We know what to do” and were often beating their chests as the infected cases were low until September 5 when all hell broke loose.
It appears on the surface that the current rulers were prepared “to go it alone” in an effort to take all the credit and praise for any success in keeping the Covid-19 figures low as compared to other neighbouring islands.
An activated and fully functioning NADMA with the Social Partners fully on board would have brought far much greater wisdom in the fight against the virus.
The sad reality of the situation is that Covid-19 has resulted in the collapse of an already very fragile health system that was badly lacking in equipment and manpower to deal with a major health crisis.
The Prime Minister took a major gamble and put the Ministry of Health in the hands of someone with a suspect track record in the area of Health – a chain smoker and an alleged heavy drinker.
THE NEW TODAY recalls the early days of the pandemic when Minister Nickolas Steele came in for heavy criticisms from an individual who goes by the name of “Rubbermaid” who often accused this senior government minister of not adequately looking after the affairs of the nation but can be seen on a daily basis operating from inside his newly open upscale restaurant on Grand Anse beach.
The message that the individual was sending to the people of Grenada is that this particular government minister was spending more time looking after his own business interest and not putting together plans to fight the pandemic in the interest of the nation.
Today when Grenadians are on their knees as the virus leaves in its wake a trail of death and destruction on the lives of many families, the Prime Minister, Minister Steele and the Covid-19 team have been left flat-footed and empty of ideas to deal with the crisis.
The ruling New National Party (NNP) administration has not put in place a proper system to help cushion the blows on the population by this deadly virus.
There is a massive shortage of isolation centres to separate Covid-19 infected persons living in households with family members who are still negative from tests for the virus.
Covid-19 has been allowed to spread like wildfire in the country as the government failed to put in mechanisms to slow it down.
A major factor in the fight against Covid-19 among the islands of the sub-regional grouping is the role being played by the respective Prime Ministers in the charge to beat back the threat posed by this invisible virus.
Prime Minister Gonsalves of St. Vincent, Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica, Gaston Brown of Antigua are in the forefront of the battle with their hands-on approach in championing their responses to the pandemic.
Even the newly elected Prime Minister Phillip Pierre in St Lucia is rising to the occasion in the fight against Covid-19.
Our own leader is seemingly distancing himself and leaving an inept Health Minister to handle the crisis.
With the government’s own efforts in deep crisis itself, the wily Prime Minister who sees everything in political terms to gain mileage is now trying to reach out for help and is now prepared to meet with opposition forces including his main rivals in the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
But it was the Opposition Leader, Tobias Clement who first reached out for a meeting with the Prime Minister to put on the table a number of measures that he felt could help to ease the plight of the people.
The Yellow Camp should not shy away from meeting with Dr. Mitchell but be extremely cautious in dealing with him as he would try to neutralise them when it comes to “the blows” which the NNP should rightfully get for its inept handling of the Covid-19 situation.
Despite the crisis on hand, the current Prime Minister will always have an eye on the election clock to win another term in office and remain in power for another 5-year term to add to his impressive scoresheet, even if the death toll from the virus continues to hit the roof in terms of numbers.
Covid-19 is not going away soon in the world and countries around the world are trying to put every measure in place to ensure that their entire population is protected against the virus whether through mass testing, vaccination and other means.
However, the NNP political machinery is being oiled right now for the upcoming national poll while the people are suffering daily from the onslaught of the virus.