T&T is now three days into a State of Emergency implemented to counter the recent dizzying spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths. This is the second Government initiative to stave off the third wave of the virus, having already initiated lockdown measures that remain in effect alongside the SoE.
As it stands, however, yesterday’s record 23 deaths and 601 new cases is another reality check proving T&T is far off from achieving the ultimate goal.
In that regard, it is astonishing that citizens were surprised when all outdoor activity was banned as part of the SoE measures. There was, of course, an uproar over the decision because such activity is part of many citizens’ daily routines to preserve their health and sanity.
The outcry was so loud Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi was forced to explain the reasoning for the move. Of course, he highlighted incidents at Lopinot, Chaguaramas and San Fernando, where persons conducting such activities, clearly flouted the social gathering and distancing protocols and created possible super spreader scenarios.
Why was there not the same uproar when citizens saw these events and other events unfolding before their eyes, with the requisite immediate reports to the T&T Police Service so corrective action could be taken?
In fact, had all citizens taken collective responsibility in the COVID fight, as done admirably in last year’s first wave, we would not have been at this stage. Truth be told, this SoE has been called to help law enforcement officers in taking the necessary action against those who continue to flout the laws while using loopholes that the Public Health Regulations offer.
Unfortunately, even those law-abiding citizens who have been obeying the protocols will now feel the effects the stringent enforcement measures with the loss of rights previously available to them. It is hoped the TTPS will not abuse this power in exercising their duty although thus far, they have used a commendable level of patience in some scenarios.
Still, it is unfathomable that in the face of evidence, COVID is wreaking unpredicted havoc. Some citizens are still exhibiting behaviour that can clearly put the entire country in danger. In that regard, this media house hopes law enforcement officers will ensure they seek out such individuals and penalise them to send a clear message to others who may be so minded. The current scenario within the parallel health system clearly requires nothing short of full compliance to bring cases down.
There is more light ahead with the arrival of 100,000 Sinopharm vaccines from China overnight. However, it will take health officials time to roll out the next phase of inoculation to enable more citizens a chance at fighting this dreaded disease.
It should not have taken an SoE to achieve full compliance with the health protocols given the startling loss of lives and cases now experienced daily. Still, full co-operation with health officials remains the biggest factor in staving off COVID-19 and only citizens, not an SoE, can help win the battle to save lives and everything else affected.