It was good of the CDC to remind us that we are still in the pandemic for over the past weeks it appeared that we had finally killed the virus. Little was heard of the slogans, jingles and warnings that had previously been bombarding us. But after two years, I imagine life must go on and Vincymas one of the highlights of Vincentian life must go on. I did some checking and realised that on June 27 we had 80 active Covid-19 cases. This was down from 97 on June 24 when we kicked off Vincymas. On the 24th 3 persons were hospitalised. The figures for June 28 show 10 hospitalised and of concern, one death, a 42 year old female who died on June 27. There has always been something strange to me about the Covid situation here. With the start of carnival and with all the protocols removed one would have expected an increase in active cases, though hopefully not a spike. What is strange was that over the past two years we emphasized masking and social distancing. But it is amusing, too, when we remember that our traditional carnival was about masking. That is why the masqueraders rioted in 1879. They were asked to remove their masks! How have times changed! I am not sure what is the science behind this for social distancing is not possible during carnival. Certainly, we have not seen this as necessary for carnival this year. I don’t believe that much has changed where the numbers of vaccinated are concerned. This brings us back to the firing of teachers and public servants who had refused to be vaccinated. Today unvaccinated persons have no restrictions placed on them. Recently we were warned by our PM that full participation was dependent, if I recall, on positivity rates. All that is now out of the window. Why then are those who had initially refused to be vaccinated still have that ‘crime’ hanging over them? When one looks at the crowds of unvaccinated people jumping for carnival, hugging one another in the process, something is strange about the science behind all of this. Has the virus lost its sting? What else has changed? Have we all developed immunity?
Let us hope all of this works out for the best and that we are not faced with spikes in the number of active cases and unmanageable increases in hospital rates. CDC however expects an explosion of persons into Kingstown. It also asks us to do whatever we can do to personally safeguard ourselves and those around us. Certainly, a tall order during carnival!
Carnival is often seen by some of us as a time to forget our problems and the nation’s problems and enjoy ourselves to the fullest. The dilemma here is that once carnival is over, we are left face to face with what we tried to evade. The price of flour will be increased from Monday and certainly with that will go an increase in the price of bread. But of course, man shall not live by bread alone! One understands the factors forcing price increases but let the playing field be level. What of the small entrepreneurs who have to purchase imports that have been increasing in prices and also local inputs. I cry for the minivan drivers who face not only increased gasoline prices but also prices of vehicle parts. This issue of increases in imports has to be looked at broadly and not be focused on individual units that might have some muscles to pump.
Our economic situation in the short run is certainly going to get worse. A plan for dealing with this is urgently needed. As we recover from the energy we have released during carnival, let us leave enough to fight the fall out from the economic problems that are around. Crime must also become the focus of our attention since in this area matters appear to be getting out of hand. All of these things demand a vigilant public. Let us meet these challenges energetically.
l Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian