Close Down Again? Definitely Not!

In light of the sudden and rapid spiral in coronavirus cases recently in Jamaica, some people have been quick to try and make it into a political issue, claiming...

In light of the sudden and rapid spiral in coronavirus cases recently in Jamaica, some people have been quick to try and make it into a political issue, claiming the Government had opened its borders too quickly. They should, therefore, be thinking of closing down again, they say.

When are these detractors going to accept that this murderous virus is not going to go away any time soon so we better start using our brains and learn to live with it? Even if a vaccine is found, how long before it can effectively reach all the vulnerable people in the world, especially in poor countries?

Anyway, I suspect that even if one is available to all before the end of 2020, most people are not going to willingly take it, for the general feeling is that one developed so quickly will not be adequately tested to see what the side effects are. In fact, a CBS poll done in May 2020 found that at least half the US population was saying they would not be taking a vaccine. I suspect Jamaicans are just as sceptical.

On the other hand, we in Jamaica have learned how to effectively control the spread of the virus and were doing quite well until a church got out of control.

I have long warned that religion is going to be the death of us in Jamaica and it seems some churches are determined to prove me correct. More ominously, there is now a religious political party, the Jamaica Progressive Party (JPP), which is made up totally of parsons.

Interestingly, this party is promising to pay off Jamaica’s national debt. In 2019, that was listed as US$14.3. They have not indicated where they will be getting that class of money, so I can only conclude they are not serious about that promise!

A great start for a religious organization.

I think Jamaicans should be glad I don’t have power, for, during this epidemic I would probably have padlocked the whole bunch of churches down, as I have always considered them more dangerous than useful! Yes, the parsons would be screaming all the way to the altar, but as far as I am concerned, virtual church service can be just as effective and a lot cheaper for people wanting to be saved and at least they won’t feel as pressured to give collection.

Amusingly, some parsons are already suffering so badly from a shortage of collection that I hear they have been writing to even unemployed people telling them to tithe, even though they have lost their job.

That’s not a problem though, since I don’t think math has changed since I did it decades ago. So 10% of zero still remains zero!

But I stray.

There is just too much panic and irrational thinking affecting too many people as far as this virus is concerned.

As of Wednesday, August 19 there are 1,192 cases of coronavirus diagnosed in Jamaica but only 14 deaths. As far as we are concerned, therefore, for some strange reason, this virus has been quite benign.

Let’s give thanks for that and move on.

So while in the USA, coronavirus is the third leading cause of death, coming only after cancer and heart disease, in third world Jamaica — which has been very proactive and efficient — deaths from this disease have been minuscule. On the other hand, I am sure, violent crime is our leading cause of death. (Just can’t find the numbers on this issue anywhere!) However, the World Bank has consistently said that Jamaica’s economic growth is stymied by about 5% per year because of our crime problem.

I, therefore, wish we would spend as much time thinking up solutions and finding the funds to deal with this perennial problem, as we are for this quite benign virus.

As long as the Government continues to test, track, educate, enforce social distancing and mask-wearing, we can have a pretty normal life.

We need to open up totally and join countries as diverse as Aruba, Costa Rica, and UAE in requiring that all visitors must have international health insurance so that our budget is not devastated by those foreigners who have the disease.

The alternative to opening up is just too frightening to consider. For as it stands, it is estimated that the Jamaican economy has already contracted by 4% (sounds like an underestimate to me) because of the lockdown and an additional 100,000 people are now newly unemployed. When one considers that each paycheque supports between 4 and 5 people, the scenario is really troubling.

With tourism now almost dead, remittances iffy and bauxite struggling, what will happen to the economy in the long run if the Government listens to middle-class dreamers who say we must lock up the country once again?

Back to the days of coal stoves and semi-literate children who must go to school barefooted, hungry and ragged?

Those who are comfortable can continue to spew from their air-conditioned homes and offices but the future for the majority is just too dire for the Government to even think of closing down again.

Now that the election has been set for the 3rd September, they won’t fall for the nonsense for short-term gain.

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