First of all let me extend Season’s greetings to all our readers, customers, supporters, well-wishers and the people of our beloved St Vincent and the Grenadines.
It is certainly a Christmas season the likes of which we have not experienced before. We have had difficult Christmases before, following natural disasters and even under a State of Emergency but the effects have not quite been like this one under the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Even as the vaccines so frantically developed are being administered in some of the rich nations which have been able to afford them, the virus seems to be posing new challenges. Out of the UK and Europe there are reports of the virus mutating into new, more infectious strains.
It has caused a virtual panic-stricken but absolutely necessary lockdown being enforced in some countries with the UK itself in almost a state of isolation. More and more countries are banning flights to and from that country and with it being a major tourist market for Caribbean countries, there is alarm rising in this region about the spread of the disease to our shores. Rising numbers of infections in countries close to us like Grenada and St Lucia are most worrying.
In all this climate of concern the situation is not being helped by a growing debate about the vaccines. Even before we get access to any of them there are those among us who seem to revel in spreading all kinds of negative vibes about the vaccine. Of course there are differing perspectives about the vaccine. There are persons opposed to the administering of vaccines on religious, personal or other grounds as is their right to hold such views. However, given the global threat and the real damage to lives and livelihood, does that justify a campaign to dissuade others who, ought of concern for their safety, would like to take a vaccine, if available?
We all share the same social space and must therefore accept personal responsibility for our social behaviour which can have effects on the well-being and lives of others. It is commendable that in the current global climate we have been able to proceed with our traditional Christmas activities, albeit with necessary adjustments according to the health protocols.
What we can observe though is that a sense of complacency seems to have developed in our country. The initial worry about the spread of the disease seems to have subsided somewhat because we have had no deaths or very serious cases.
We are mixing with each other in crowds paying little attention to the wearing of masks, social distancing and other such precautions.
We are sometimes called upon to make individual sacrifices for the common good and this situation certainly warrants it. It would be a major error to only concern ourselves with our entertainment and not play our part in being vigilant and acting responsibly over the season. In countries like the UK the stage has even been reached where there are restrictions on the number of guests you can entertain in your own home over the season and in some other countries Christmas has been virtually cancelled.
We are very fortunate in SVG but our fortunes will not last unless we safeguard it with vigilance and precautions. It is not the health officers alone who have responsibility for our public safety, we too have individual responsibility. Let us exercise it as we make the best of our traditional season of joy and ensure that we all stay safe to resume the task of nation-building in a difficult 2021.
Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.