by R. T. LUKE V. BROWNE
THIS IS A VERY DIFFICULT TIME for the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We have been dealing with the coronavirus pandemic for almost a year, an outbreak of dengue fever, an effusive eruption of La Soufrière and we are now hearing that a wave of Sahara Dust is heading in our direction. When it rains it really pours.
I played an active role in the response to COVID-19 and dengue fever while I was in office as the Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment. It was an honour for me to serve my nation in that capacity at a time of serious challenges. I handed over the reins of the Ministry to a capable successor – the Honourable St.Clair “Jimmy” Prince. I have every confidence in him and the government.
I just wanted to take this opportunity in particular to appeal to my fellow Vincentians to please demonstrate responsible behaviour as we deal with an upsurge of local COVID-19 cases.
Unfortunately, we have recorded our first death from COVID-19.
I know personally many persons that have tested positive for COVID-19, including close friends and colleagues from the Ministry.
This disease is no respecter of persons. I am keeping all persons infected by it in my thoughts and prayers and willing them to a speedy recovery.
I have maximum respect for all the health professionals involved in our response to COVID-19. I recently ran into the Chief Laboratory Technologist Elliot Samuel.
He told me stories of routinely going for more than 24 hours without sleep just to get the job done and deliver timely results. These people deserve a badge of honour.
The staff of the Isolation Centre is doing essential work in a tough environment. We should be singing their praises and maybe also paying them hazard allowances.
We should probably be doing the same for the doctors and nurses on the frontlines either at the hospital or other stations. We owe them all a debt of gratitude.
We must earnestly seek to minimise the impact that COVID-19 has on our population. We need to take all reasonable precautions and take charge of our own health, pay attention to all sources of credible information and follow the guidelines. We must also be our brother’s keeper. The current recommendation to wear masks in public spaces and on public transport vehicles is utterly sensible. I am sure that the health authorities would do what is necessary to understand the recent upsurge in cases, further enhance the capacity of our health system and in general safeguard public health.
Let us come together to beat COVID-19 into retreat and ultimately submission. The development of a vaccine perhaps gives us a glimmer of hope and helps us to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We must be very pro-active in securing our supplies of it. I look forward to the day when we could once again more freely interact with our family and friends, fellowship at church, attend parties and participate in social activities and events. I know that a lot of persons are longing for the return of Carnival.
We just have to push through this difficult period. Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.
Vincentians are a tough and resilient people. There is a reason why our national anthem says that whatever the future brings, our faith would see us through.