PSOJ urges a unified approach in the vaccination effort-October 16, 2021

The Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) is sounding a little exasperated, and who can blame them? I attended a press briefing by the …

PSOJ urges a unified approach in the vaccination effort

Accountability (not)-Jamaican style-October 15, 2021

A very interesting article by Peter Espeut in today’s Gleaner on the broad issue of accountability amongst public servants and politicians:

Many of us have long lamented the absence of integrity in the actions of these people, and it’s high time we did more than lament.

COVID Conversation-October 14, 2021

Minister Tufton used this week’s conversation to give another overview of COVID trends and update on the vaccination programme:

The vaccination update showed Jamiaca is still lagging:

Pfizer doses shipments are still awaited:

That news was supplemented by assurances from the Chief Medical Officer about vaccine protection for those who had only received their first Pfizer doses:

No sense in not having fans watch football at National Stadium-October 13, 2021

It was intriguing to follow some of the discussions over the weekend about letting fans watch the international football match at the National Stadium on Sunday evening. No fans were allowed in.

By contrast, I’d been to two events in California during the weekend, with large crowds, one outdoor (college football in the afternoon), the other indoor (a rock music concert at night). The COVID protocols were the same at each: proof of full vaccination, or a negative COVID test within the past 72 hours; masks to be worn. The football stadium holds nearly 80,000; the auditorium holds about 18,000. COVID testing was offered on site at the football stadium.

Why couldn’t similar protocols have been used in Jamaica?

Whatever the difference in local vaccination status, the same general group of people would be allowed to participate-the vaccinated or those who had negative tests. The main difference is that a much larger potential audience exists in the USA, under such conditions. The risks would be essentially the same.

I’ve been baffled all weekend by Jamaica seeming to not ‘get it’.

Today, I’m attending another mass sporting event; professional tennis, outdoor. Same general rules apply but with no mask mandate. COVID testing is offered on site.

I’m convinced administrators dropped the ball in Kingston and may leave it on the ground for fear of looking silly by reversing their policy.

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These thoughts were published in the Jamaica Observer on October 13:

Gruden’s ugly past catches up with him-October 12, 2021

They say that it’s better not to utter things that you’ll regret others hearing, reading or seeing, especially in the glare of public disclosures. John Gruden, current-now-past head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders:

Nasty sentiments, no matter how you want to frame it.

Kingston: A green city or a concrete jungle?-October 12, 2021

Architect Ann Hodges has a letter in today’s Gleaner, a letter which focuses on the developments taking place on the street on which she lives – Lady…

Kingston: A green city or a concrete jungle?

Indigenous People’s Day-October 11, 2021

October 11 in the USA is no longer that awkward acknowledgment of Christopher Columbus. The recognition of indigenous peoples has a long history but has yet to be implanted fully into the consciousness of the USA:

But, President Biden has been the first president to acknowledge it, formally:

A formal proclamation was issued:

Chief Medical Officer’s Covid-19 Update for Oct 7, 2021-October 10, 2021

A useful overview of changing communication strategies by the Ministry of Health and Wellness. It’s not clear if this is a sign of fatigue, from the burden of keeping the population abreast of COVID trends and policy developments, or if it’s felt to be a more effective use of the time and resources of personnel. One thing these changes may avoid is questions, the lack of opportunities to pose and answers to which has caused a lot of discontent amongst local media houses.

Jamaica’s Ministry of Health & Wellness (MOHW) had established a practice of weekly Covid-19 press conferences, usually held on Thursday evenings. …

Chief Medical Officer’s Covid-19 Update for Oct 7, 2021

Proof of vaccination expanded in USA to include AstraZeneca-October 9, 2021

The USA has moved to accept all WHO-approved vaccinations for international visitors:

The reality was, however, that most requests for proof of vaccination did not discriminate against international visitors, even if any ID presented (if requested) was clearly issued by a foreign government, especially if they were made for a visual check of a card; most look similar.

For those of us who’re not US citizens moving through the USA, there was the possibility that we’d bump into the wall made by the fact that AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccines are not yet approved for use in the USA, though they are approved in most other countries. So, it’s good to know that the wrinkle has been removed.

We found out the wrinkle, recently, when trying to arrange a ‘CLEAR’) digital vaccine pass, but AZ was not on the list in the app. A little ‘tweak’ got past that. It’ll be interesting to check in coming days whether that’s changed. Meantime, we’re accepted in the CLEAR system and will move forward knowing that our ‘tweak’ is no longer needed.

Getting global vaccination recognition: Jamaica gets an ‘upgrade’ on UK’s approved vaccination lists-October 8, 2021

A looming problem for many countries is being excluded by other countries because of their poor dealing with the COVID pandemic. One aspect of that which had played out for most countries, early on, was that their citizens were prevented from entering other countries because COVID cases were high in the country of origin. So, it was notable that US citizens were excluded from travel to the UK and EU and UK citizens were excluded from travel to the US, Jamaica and many other places, as the pandemic raged and variants emerged. Some countries, like Australia, are still largely closed to visitors from other countries.

For many countries, this has become most apparent with the English ‘red list’ countries scheme, and its associated ‘countries with approved COVID-19 proof of vaccination’.

So, only Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines are ‘approved’. But, proof of vaccination was only being given to mainly to the ‘NHS COVID pass’ (for those living in England), the EU Digital COVID Certificate, and the Centers for Disease Control vaccination card (for US residents). Many other countries were included, eg Canada, Barbados, and Dominica. However, Jamaica, The Bahamas, Guyana, and Trinidad were notable exclusions from within the English-speaking ‘Caribbean’ area.

Fortunately, the list will change, from October 11, and Jamaica, amongst others will be added to the approved list. This was announced, yesterday, by Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs:

I’ve checked myself on the www.gov.uk site as I have a particular interest, because I hope to visit my UK cousins and others early in 2022, which is a bit way off, but the landscape needs to be set well, early.

It means that those travelling from Jamaica won’t get treated as if they came from red list countries (if they were not British or Irish nationals or had residence rights in the UK), which would have meant more stringent and costly quarantine and testing requirements (booking a ‘quarantine hotel package (11 nights), including 2 COVID-19 tests’ and providing ‘passenger locator’ information-the cost is currently £2,285/adult, £1,430 per additional person over 11, £325 for a child aged 5-11. Fines for not pre-arranging a package were up to £4,000 and if quarantine rules were broken, a penalty of up to £10,000.

The prospect of having cancel current hotel bookings and ‘enjoy’ 11 days in a ‘quarantine hotel’ was making my trip less likely. But, things now look good.

In passing, The Bahamas will also be added, but not Guyana and Trinidad, at present.

This whole episode was somewhat bizarre because countries like Jamaica had received AztraZeneca (AZ) vaccines provided by the internationally-coordinated COVAX programme, but manufactured in India (which was what was proving a sticking point for the UK (based on arguments about proper certification of that production, even though the WHO had given such assurances). It was made absurd because Jamaica had recently received and used AZ doses given as gifts by the UK, and essentially fine in British eyes, but…