It’s here! Dr. Tufton, health and wellness minister said yesterday during a virtual press conference:
“In making this declaration, we are alerting the public that the transmission of the virus can no longer be easily traced from one member of the population to the other,” He said that Jamaicans will now have to assume that everyone they come in contact with is positive. The full briefing is below, along with an informative thread about the development of the virus in Jamaica:
What does the announcement really change?
Some will focus on the fact that the decision was taken to change the status on September 2; Election Day was September 3; announcement came September 4.
Not all agree on whether notifying the nation formally of this status earlier really mattered, as the exhortations given yesterday had been given repeatedly in recent weeks. Someone tells you ‘Danger’ but you’re waiting for them to pin up the sign before you react? Regional health authorities indicate they have done as much as humanly possible to inform and sensitize local populations. Some are now urging more robust enforcement of regulations about wearing masks in public, as seen in recent arrests in Half Way Tree.
For a range of reasons, it’s clear that even with the spread of the virus on people’s doorsteps, as taken by the quaratining of communities, as in Sandy Bay, Clarendon, and Church Corner, St. Thomas, people have wantonly disregarded advice on protective behaviour. The health officials noted that many people just believe they wont catch it.
The PM in the first week of August warned about complacency:
But, two weeks later we saw the a public disregard for such warnings with a birthday bash for Usain Bolt, who has since tested positive:
We saw the complacency displayed by politicians, themselves, during the election campaign just ended, including wanton displays by candidates on Election Day.
When most people see these kinds of things, if they can reason, they ask themselves “What are the rules and who are they for?”
The minster of health made the point last night that some of the most privileged communities need to curb their entitled behaviour and stop holding house parties:
What has changed is the moral authority to take enforcement to another level.
A battle royal is going on in Jamaica to convince people of the seriousness of the problem and what is needed to succeed in overcoming it. I have no problem saying that the government by its own mixed messages contributed significantly to the problem. It’s now trying to make the message clear, but a lot of damage has been done. The renewed mandate gained in the election means the government may feel its hand is stronger to go for much for stringent enforcement and it may be a battle of wills that turns into physical confrontation with some. We do not have the massive political opposition to mask wearing seen in the USA, but we have some hard-headed people, including some of our religious fraternity.
New restrictions are expected to be announced on Monday, September 7. They’ll likely include at least longer curfews, reintroducing stay-at-home orders and work-from-home instructions. We’ll see how far they go and then how well they are followed. Draconian measures have been applied in other countries, so the map is clear on what can be tried and what has worked.