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Living in Troubled Times

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There is no doubt that the COVID-19 virus has  become a central player in our lives. The news continue to be bad, although it appears that more people are now getting tested and are taking the vaccines.

My Coronavirus live tracker shows that we are still at the bottom where vaccination doses administered are concerned.  The figures reveal that 35,118 doses have been administered (partial and full), slightly less than St.Kitts/Nevis with 35, 845, but then St. Kitts only has a population of 53, 679 compared with our 110,000 (estimated). Our active cases, 1,365 are high, compared to our neighbours, except Barbados with 2,438. St. Lucia has 773 and Grenada 321, countries which had been spiking recently. While writing this column I am looking at what seemed to have been a Travel Advisory update of October 13, by the US Embassy in Barbados to the effect that the CDC had issued a Level 4 Travel Health notice for SVG “indicating a very high level of Covid-19 in the country” and suggesting that the risk of contracting Covid and developing severe symptoms is likely to be lower if vaccinated. News of this kind is not welcome, particularly when we are moving into the tourist season.

     September was a particularly bad month for us with 1,217 new positive cases and the death toll moving to 38,with rumours as I write that a couple more might have been added over the past couple days. October as it looks at the moment might, if we are not careful, be even worse. Between October 1 and 6 there were 533 new positive cases with four days where figures ranged from 99 to 131. What are we going to do, just hope and pray? My problem with SVG as I have stated on numerous occasions is that the country is too divided even as we move toward commemorating 42 years of Independence.  Could we be happy with how we are at this stage? Independence has to do with the people. It was not about changing a flag and moving from premier to  prime minister or from governor to governor general. Nor does it have to do with material development, for the remaining colonies might perhaps be more materially developed than we are. The question is how have we developed as a people? It is the people who will move the country forward.  Without them little will be done.

     We are facing a crisis as has never been seen before as the pandemic takes hold of our country. It is getting out of hand, and we have to defeat it, but we can never do so if we do not organise ourselves and fight it as one people. I have seen some reference to our PM questioning the value of talking with the opposition. I am not sure what else was said, but the point is we are one people, and everybody has to come on board. Let us not see ourselves primarily as members or supporters of a political party. We are more than that, but you cannot, in any event, dismiss a party that polled a majority of votes at the last election. We need to talk and see how we can get around this crisis. The different organisations have to talk with their members but also to talk with and to each other.

     The public service and teachers unions have been struggling against mandatory vaccinations as is their right to . But let us halt and look ahead. Among the persons in that struggle would have been those who have been vaccinated. There would be others who are not antivaxxers but have particular concerns. If they have not done that as yet there must be a conversation with those who have concerns and questions. These might be addressed especially given all the misinformation around. Put that on the table and let us see where we go. The health people will be essential in this dialogue. Let them do the talking, let them address the concerns. This is a situation in which the messenger will be as important as the message.

     My particular concern is with students who are now beginning their formal education. An essential part of their socialisation and development is meeting and conversing with new friends. Caribbean people generally like to ‘lime’ and I use this word in a very positive sense, people getting together and caring about each other. But we have to get out of this mess. We are being forced to social distance but that has never been our thing, that’s why we are making a mess of it.

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