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The COVID-19 address to the Nation: ‘The cyclops identity’

A Cyclops, in Greek mythology and later Roman mythology, was a member of a primordial race of giants, each with a single eye in the middle of his forehead.

“Think of an institution where the folk in authority only have one eye. With whom would they surround themselves? At worst, more Cyclops. At best, blind creatures. People with two eyes and 20/20 vision would be unemployable in such an institution (The late Dr Kenrick Orrin Barrow, in his swansong speech, Jamaica, 2013).

 By Dr Alphonsus St Rose, Independent Candidate for Choiseul/Saltibus

We as a nation, are disturbed by recent developments regarding the handling of this killer pandemic, Covid-19, that has spread out of control and beyond the capacity of our healthcare delivery system to handle. This situation prompted the prime minister to address the nation (02.02.21) on the way forward in dealing with Covid-19 as the number of infected cases and deaths continue to surge.

In the prime ministers’ address, he gave us a history of the Covid-19 journey that he has led. A journey that has gotten us to this disastrous point, packaged in a campaign speech, certainly was not what we wanted to hear. What is critical, is where do we go from here to stop the spread and rising deaths in a setting of honest, hopeful and empathetic engagement, which was sadly lacking.

I warned that with increasing numbers the death toll was going to rise, and for any life lost, is one too many. Our quagmire is three-fold.

  1. An administration whose malevolence, mendacity, contempt and misplaced priorities towards the citizens will not afford it an inspirational platform for its much-needed public buy-in for policy direction and implementation.
  2. An opposition struggling to find its mojo of national relevance at a time of necessity for democracy, leadership, national unity and benevolence.
  3. A citizenry all too confused and divided by tribal partisan politics to discern some measure of responsibility for its everyday realities.

This is a war for survival, in a pandemic where survival means implementing public healthcare strategies to primarily and unequivocally save lives (not economies or elections first). It is clear to all that the prime minister, until now, has chosen to preferentially execute that war with an economic and political strategy that will serve no humanitarian purpose.

COVID-19: A bitter pill to swallow

What was striking, was the absence of his chief medical officer, who is supposed to be his/our lead expert on the pandemic and whose authority, professionalism and guidance are vital in this situation. Instead, Mary Isaac, with no expertise and relevance in this area suddenly resurfaced and her best contribution was that she got a mask from the Taiwanese.

How instructive it was to note, that the prime minister chose to surround himself with a “special interest” entourage whose primary concern was never to safeguard the lives of the citizenry; No! It was to generate much-needed support for the prime minister and to safeguard profits for their shareholders, an inconvenient truth for which there will never be public admission.

Why has the prime minister chosen to bring a group of businesspeople (Chairs of the Chamber of Commerce, Manufacturers Association, Bankers Association and the President of the SLHTA) to address us when our problem is a pandemic that is killing us?

In fact, some hoteliers were sourcing clients from the worst hotspot areas in the world, advertising get-away and quarantine holidays at discounted rates, all in the midst of a pandemic. Yet, our prime minister, minister of health and minister of tourism enabled and embraced the open border (front door) policy of allowing these potential super-spreaders visitor phenomena (the tourism industry) to grace our shores, at this critical moment.

While we were being reprimanded for community spread, our incumbent leaders were busy presenting silly arguments in defence of the “front door” theory, while refusing to enforce sensible sanctions at the borders. We were denied robust border entry protocols with second testing and a minimum time mandatory quarantine for all visitors.

Today, for our protection and survival, in addition to following all the public health protocols while we await the arrival of a vaccine, we need to SHUT THE BORDERS immediately for a minimum of two to three weeks. Instead, we get a State of Emergency (SOE), a curfew and still, wide-open borders.

What conscience, what thoughts, what leadership acumen allows anyone, let alone our leaders, to behave in this manner in a pandemic, is beyond troubling. We should be outraged! Honesty in our actions gives meaning to words!

But there again, according to the prime minister in parliament on the Covid-19 matter, “how does one argue with success” while Mary Isaac blames the citizens for having “dropped the ball”.

It is my sincere hope that tonight’s address will echo a sense of unity, humility, honesty, respect, empathy and meaningful direction for our collective best interest; and that the prime minister will finally accede to doing the right thing, not least of which should be, a policy shift and course correction on defeating the Covid-19 pandemic.



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