It’s normal for voters and citizens to expect change after General Elections – and usually faster than slower.
It’s also normal for many who voted for change to make unrealistic, unfair, even impossible demands on the new administration.
It’s happening again here after the July 26 polls — except that these are not normal times.
The election was six weeks ago, the prime minister was sworn-in five weeks ago, the Cabinet was appointed one month ago, the first Joint Session of the 12th Parliament was held only three weeks ago – and the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament have only met for business once.
Yet we hear: ‘The new government is not doing enough to fight COVID’ or ‘Government is moving too slow to appoint its people…’
You’d swear the Prime Minister and Health Minister are simply sitting on their hands while people continue to catch COVID, get hospitalized and die.
The Prime Minister’s insistence on ‘Following the Science’ while watching where ‘The Numbers’ take us is being ridiculed by bright-yellow kernels, while some of those watching with rose-tinted glasses find he’s either ‘too slow’ or ‘not showing leadership…’
Those who live offering daily excuses to try to justifiably explain why they haven’t vaccinated grab-on to straws whenever feeling drowned by the real facts and figures spelling truth and shedding light on their lies.
Some grabbed-on to the news of the deaths of two vaccinated persons earlier this week like it was a God-sent vindication of their ridiculous positions that ‘Vaccines don’t save lives…’
They well-know what’s being argued by the governments, health authorities and pro-vaccination lobby — and proven by the same Science and Numbers – is that while vaccination will not guarantee eternal immunity or life-everlasting insurance against COVID, it will reduce chances of contracting the virus and dying from it by at least 85% (depending on the vaccine).
They totally ignore the fact that police officers and minibus drivers have joined the COVID victims – and that the nation’s doctors are also insisting that in the interest of all, all frontline health workers should be vaccinated.
They ignore that increasing numbers of hotel workers and workers at commercial businesses are getting vaccinated; and more employers are seeing the very survival of their businesses depending on levels of vaccination among staff and obeying and enforcing protocols by both staff and customers.
They ignore the increasing evidence that while Saint Lucia remains the highest unvaccinated country in the OECS, the pace of vaccinations increased after the arrival of the Pfizer vaccine, revealing that much of the hesitance is based on vaccine trust and choice rather than only belief in conspiracy theories.
They completely ignore the high number of persons who have opted to risk infection and await the Cuban vaccines, instead of settling for either the Oxford-AstraZeneca or Pfizer variants available.
They preach mistrust against the Chief Medical Officer and other senior health ministry professionals, claiming they are ‘under-reporting’ COVID cases and ‘hiding the fact that the Delta Variant was detected here before elections…’
Instead of appreciating the admirable precedent set by the CMO — as a parent — by having her two children vaccinated, the usual suspects are asking questions that only show how far they will go in their efforts to make stupidity triumph over science.
These unusual and abnormal times, as the gubernatorial transition is taking place in the middle of a national health crisis and State of Emergency in which all health professionals must give their best and all doctors remain bound by their sacred Hippocratic Oath.
This new administration took office after the pandemic had for 16 long months changed and taken lives more than anywhere else in the OECS and inherited a ‘fourth COVID wave’ bequeathed by its predecessors that’s taken a heavier national hospitalization and death toll in the past six weeks than in the previous six months.
The COVID cost on the economy and health services, the social costs to communities and families and the sheer enormity of the uncertainty about continuity are all factors being denied, ignored or simply not being considered by those who continue to look the other way.
But citizens seeing and feeling the effects at home, in their families and affecting relatives and friends, are increasingly also joining the growing calls for the government to ‘Do more’, some even advocating tougher measures like ‘Closing the country down’, ‘Longer lockdowns and extended curfews’ and ‘Making people stay home until COVID goes away…’
The concept of a COVID Constabulary chasing people into churches and across fields, grabbing Rastas by their ‘locks’ or even of police officers policing the protocols at risk of possible contraction was counterproductive.
But the administration’s decision to protect the protectors by decriminalizing protocol violations and replacing arrests with warnings and ticketing charges are being loudly criticized by the usual suspects, even if it very much reflects the persuasive approach most advocate instead of ‘mandating’.
But none of that seems to apply here today, when and where elections hangover is still as long, deep and high as the prolonged COVID danger being ensured by those who continue encouraging people to actually but unknowingly opt for suicide, instead of vaccinating to at least reduce their chances of getting affected by 85%.
While the loudest critics continue to rile, the government continues to count the costs and tabulate the losses while still having to do all it can and must to seek and find the assistance necessary to urgently address and curtail the damning and deadly effects of the virus at a time when Delta is already causing havoc after landing – and a new ‘Variant of Interest’ has been detected next-door in St. Vincent & The Grenadines that could very well (and hopefully not) turn out to be the ‘Delta-on-Steroids’ that the scientists have been warning about.
There’s no better time than now for the government to activate its own vaccination diplomacy drive, not only to encourage more vaccination and widen vaccine choices, but also to seek quality help in the quantities needed to make a difference in these times when Saint Lucia is like getting ready to handle the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the USA, the 20th Anniversary of which is also being observed internationally today.
Try as we may, we cannot win the COVID fight alone and this is a time for Saint Lucia and its OECS and CARICOM partners to continue to seek all the needed external help that nations in a position to meaningfully assist would be willing and able to offer.
This week’s historic African Union-CARICOM Summit opened the way for continuation of the cooperation steps already started in sharing vaccines, as well as common lessons and experiences to complement assistance already being received from the World health Organization (WHO), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), CARICOM partners and Cuba, the USA and Taiwan — and all others that have assisted and continue to.
But Saint Lucia is counting volumes and costs, to lives and livelihoods, the economic and social living, consequences likewise double.
Therefore, instead of waiting for the eternal critics to call for an early urgent inquiry into ‘Why The Government Has Failed To Seek Help For COVID-19’, it would definitely be better for the government to start to shop the world for available help in quality and volumes to overcome a pandemic whose effects are no less harmful to the health of the nation here than anywhere else in this whole wide world.
In this context, a proverbial COVID stich-in-time will virtually — indeed actually — save more than just nine lives…