Guy says Holness 'blaming Jamaicans' for spike in COVID-19 cases
The Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) is blasting the Government for its handling of the COVID-19 crisis which has seen a dramatic increase in cases in recent days and a travel advisory issued by the United States warning its citizens about visiting Jamaica at a time when the coronavirus appears to be spreading on the island.
Shadow Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Morais Guy, has charged that the Andrew Holness administration has resorted to blaming the Jamaican people for what he said is the “crisis in which the nation has plunged”.
Guy is insisting that the Government should instead “embrace accountability in its mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic instead of seeking to transfer blame to the Jamaican people”.
Responding to the spike in new COVID-19 cases, the Shadow Minister said there had been many unheeded warnings from the Opposition and other stakeholders to take into account common-sense measures and to foster an atmosphere of inclusiveness as a response to forging a national approach.
“The government must embrace accountability and not blame the people. There is no proper monitoring system in place for persons quarantined, as many continue to breach the order with impunity. Persons coming into the island were left on their own to interact with communities and attend events with no provision for sanctions. This kind of carelessness would automatically lead to community spread,” Guy stated.
According to him, “the near-panic reaction to the spike and the two new quarantine areas announced were avoidable had the government taken advice and had a more inclusive policy”.
Three persons have died from complications related to COVID-19 in recent days, and there have been 59 new cases of the respiratory virus over the past two days. This has brought the total number of confirmed cases to 987 with 13 deaths, a situation that has caused worry among Jamaicans.
At the same time, the Government on Thursday placed two communities under a 14-day quarantine following outbreaks. They are Sandy Bay in Clarendon and Church Corner in St Thomas. In the case of Sandy Bay, a senior member of a church who travelled from overseas for a convention is reportedly responsible for the spread. There are fears that adjoining communities may have been affected.
Meanwhile, an unimpressed Guy said the prime minister’s "unseemly attempt to apportion blame on the people instead of taking responsibility could not be allowed to stand".
“Who can’t hear will feel,” he said mimicking the prime minister’s threat/warning of more drastic measures, including possible prosecution for persons who continue to breach the protocols that have been put in place to limit the spread of the virus.
“The prime minister should never be saying this about the present spike,” said the Opposition spokesman.
Holness gave the warning of tougher measures in a COVID-10 press briefing on Independence day on Thursday during which he announced that a visitor, who was later named as the entertainer A’mari, had been arrested and charged for breaching the Disaster Risk Management Act. She was also charged with using indecent language during an incident in St James.
A’mari, whose real name is Veneice Fung-Chung, was charged after she was found in breach of a self-quarantine order when she was seen at several places after her arrival in the island.
“This government chose to focus on public relations gimmicks, creating a false narrative, giving the impression that they had things under control (and) leading people to believe that they were safe, hence the protocols, which were late in coming, were largely observed in the breach,” Guy asserted.
He said the calls for the pretesting of persons entering the island with the reopening of the borders in June were ignored and even a decision to test on entry was eventually abandoned.
The medical doctor noted that thousands of samples were collected with no test results available for months, rendering them useless.
“Many persons who were tested left the island before results were available. While this was happening, the nation was assured that test results would have been available within 24-48 hours after testing,” said Guy.
He pointed out that first responders and health care workers are still short of adequate supplies of personal protective gear, even as the number of hospitalizations continue to surge.