The conundrum and controversies regarding this country’s acquisition of COVID-19 vaccines seem to have been put to bed this week when truces were called, fruitful discussions were had and pledges to deliver the much-needed medicine came from two of this country’s long-standing allies.

It was indeed welcomed news for a population worn out by the continuous back and forth and exhausted by the year-long prevalence of a disease that is in no hurry to go away.

But in the same week where so much headway was made in relation to vaccinating the population, it was quite disheartening to learn that COVID-19 cases are on the rise again.

On Wednesday, 38 positive cases were reported, the highest rise in cases reported so far for the year. In fact, the last time the country recorded cases over 30 was back in December last year. There were more 21 cases reported yesterday for a three-day period of testing this week.

While the statistics may have been shocking to some, it came as no surprise to those heeding the warnings being given by the Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram and other senior health officials. Over the last two weeks, they have been noting an uptick in cases and the troubling behaviour of some citizens who are showing zero regards for the health regulations, their lives and the well-being of others facing the effect of this pandemic.

Officials have spoken pointedly about citizens in County Caroni, who are flouting the regulations by patronising bars and attending church services while experiencing flu-like symptoms, prompting health officials to embark on the painstaking task of contact tracing involving some 900 people.

But the recalcitrant behaviour seen in County Caroni is also being observed elsewhere, with some congregating in large groups with no masks on or wearing masks improperly.

Only yesterday, Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith appealed to the nation to adhere to the health protocols as citizens get set to commemorate two auspicious occasions on the religious calendar­—Spiritual Baptists Liberation Day and Easter. CoP Griffith also advised that he will no longer be granting permission for marches, demonstrations and vigils and reminded that gatherings should not exceed more than ten people.

While the onus rests not only on citizens to abide by the health regulations, it also falls to church leaders, bar owners, employers and others to play their part in turning away those who appear to be ill from their premises; ensuring the number of people in an enclosed area remains low and demanding that masks be worn properly.

But the police must also escalate their enforcement of those citizens who continue to willfully flout the regulations, given the rising number of COVID cases.

Moreover, this also highlights the need for health officials to make testing mandatory for those who may have been exposed to it. News earlier this week that some people have refused testing even after being identified as coming into contact with positive patients is worrying, as it begs the question of whether we really know the true number of cases in the country.

COVID-19, according to the experts, is not going away anytime soon. Our vigilance should not disappear either.