COVID update: 5th wave confirmed-May 19, 2022

Health and wellness minister Tufton held a media briefing, on May 18, where he confirmed the existence of the 5th COVID wave in Jamaica, with infection, positivity and reproductive rates all rising, significantly.

His main points are in the following thread, but notably the trend is being driven by OMICRON BA2 variant.

The Education minister also briefed on COVID infections within the school system and plans to deal with those and keep in-person classes in place, though some schools have reverted to online classes:

Trouble a’t mill: Jamaican public sector flexes its muscles-May 13, 2022

Trouble a’t mill!

It’s been a traumatic week on the island, for residents and potential visitors, as various groups of public sector workers baulked over long-standing compensation reviews and working conditions. Whatever the proximate reasons, these actions will dent the economic recovery begun after the worst of the pandemic.

Things kicked off with workers for the water supply company walking off the job on Tuesday and closing the valves. Many people already have erratic water supplies but now no water was assured. Some 500,000 customers-and many more people-were affected.

The government soon ordered the army to try to open the valves; they couldn’t.

Appeals came from the PM for workers to end the strike:

Negotiations were hastily accelerated and some resolution found, and workers were instructed to return to work on Wednesday. The Minister for Labour misled Parliament and the nation by claiming most people had water again, but soon retracted that claim as many looked at non-existent supplies.

Next, air traffic controllers walked out of the control towers mid-morning on Thursday, effectively closing Jamaica off from arriving or departing planes. Their principal grievance was working with a defective radar system, which had been a source of safety concerns for nearly a decade. The air space was technically not closed but the sky was empty over the island. Some 10,000 passengers were stranded-including our youngest daughter. It’s estimated that US$… The international publicity wasn’t good. The economic damage may be unpleasant, coming on top of the impact of water woes earlier in the week.

On Friday, National Housing Trust staff at HQ closed their books and ledgers.

Civil servants unions threatened during Friday to call out workers from Monday, then relented.

Wherever things go, next week, the country learned that some small groups of essential workers can hold the country at ransom.

It also learned that it’s not prepared for national disaster that may flow from industrial action.

It also learned that the habit of protracted negotiations over pay and conditions can have dire consequences.

But, which of these lessons will be heeded?

Working through arguments about Jamaican skill shortages-May 2, 2022

Fitting for Labour Day in many countries, I offered a few comments of politicians’ concerns about local skilled labour shortages, which were published in the Sunday Jamaica Observer on May 1:

Brexit: Frosty reception of a “done” deal upending a country-April 30, 2022

The UK is learning to ‘live with’ Brexit, much like it’s being asked to “live with” COVID. One problem, though, is that Brexit was a policy position bombarded onto a population, as opposed to some set of natural phenomena. But, both have crept into the lives of Britons with devastating effect. The latest spin of the Brexit wheel is essentially about ministers admitting they bamboozled the electorate. Read on!

First, the delay of border controls:

Next, admissions from the minister who negotiated Brexit that the people were misled:

In a world of properly functioning politics, this would be grounds for the bags getting packed by the leader of government. No such actions, yet. But, on top of other scandals, is this act of political deceit not a straw too many for the political camel to bear?

Roman Abramovic’s assets frozen and Chelsea FC sanctioned-March 10, 2022

Immense uncertainty now surrounds all things to do with Russian oligarch, Roman Abramovic. His assets (along with several other oligarchs) have been frozen, including his ownership of Chelsea FC, as a result of his known links to Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin:

This has the potential to totally upend a major English football club, and it’s not clear what ramifications will flow from this, in coming days, or during the season. Immediately, its football operations have ceased-mainly immediate sale of the club, new contracts, tickets and merchandise sales.

Telecoms firm ‘Three’ suspended sponsorship of Chelsea FC ahead of the match last night, but that was too short notice for the team not to wear the branded kit:

Ironically, Chelsea had a Premier League match rescheduled for March 10, and won, despite all the hullabaloo…against Norwich, struggling at the bottom of the table:

Tighter COVID restrictions for Jamaica-August 10, 2021

Media briefing by the PM last night covered a wide range of COVID-related issues:

COVID trends have worsened, as I noted in my post yesterday:

Curfew hours are to be lengthened from August 11 through 31. Gathering restrictions will be tightened, including beaches, rivers, places of worship, and gyms.

No permits will be given for entertainment events.

Schools reopening will depend on what happens in next 3 weeks.

Brexit still bubbling and boiling out of the pot 5 years on-June 26, 2021

How’s Brexit dealing with Britain, which is not so great, at the moment?

Five years on from the referendum, things looks messy:

Puffins and overfishing issues:

Pigeon fanciers’ feathers ruffled:

Computer glitch and jobs for EU women:

British TV not good for EU folks to watch?

Tinned tomatoes and inflation:

Sausages, anyone?

Northern Ireland snaggled:

Steel being stolen:

Touring artistes’ woes:

Holness points to light at end of #COVID19Life tunnel by major easing of curfews-June 23, 2021

PM Holness announced yesterday some major relaxation of Jamaica’s COVID restrictions, notably easing curfew hours to 11pm to 5am for Mondays to Saturdays and 6pm to 5am on Sundays.

The measure will run from July 1 to August 11.

The Opposition were quick to point out that our situation is still highly vulnerable despite improving trends but with a woefully low level of vaccination.

In summary, the other changes from July 1 are:

Churches and Cinemas

* Places of worship – current limit of 50 to move to a capacity-based system. This is where churches can use a measurement of one person for every 40 square feet or 70% of their capacity to conduct services.

* Indoor theatres and Cinemas – These places of amusements are to be allowed to open. They can use the measurement of one person for every 40 square feet or 70% of seated capacity, whichever is lower.

* For drive-in – vehicles should carry no more than the number it is registered to carry.

Controlled Re-entry

* COVID-19 testing – Persons must continue to present a negative test three days before arriving in Jamaica.

* 14-day quarantine remains in place.

* Fully vaccinated persons – eight-day quarantine remains in place.

* Effective July 1, 2021, persons who are fully vaccinated and return a negative PCR test after arriving in Jamaica will be released from quarantine.

Travel restriction

* Travel ban on South American countries as well as the restriction on Trinidad and Tobago and India extended to August 10.

Stay-at-home

* Persons 60 and over must remain at home until August 10. Individuals who are fully vaccinated are exempted.

Funerals and burials

* Services will now be allowed with a maximum of 30 mourners.

* Burials will now be permitted with a maximum of 30 people up from 15.

* Burials may now take place from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Mondays to Fridays only.

Markets

* To operate from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Closed on Sundays.

Beaches, Rivers, Zoos and Water attractions

* To operate from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

* 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sundays.

Parks, Gyms and Bars

* Must close one hour before the start of the curfew.

Amusement arcades

* These entities are allowed to reopen effective July 1.

Events and entertainment

* Organisers of small outdoor events such as parties, concerts, round robins, festivals, corporate mixers will be allowed to apply for permits to host no more than 100 people (50 for public sector)

* For indoor events, no more than 60 per cent of the capacity of the venue.

* Organisers of large events like stage shows, church conventions, festivals, general and special meetings will need to satisfy an approval process through the Ministry of Culture and the Office of the Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management.

* Gov’t will waive rental fees for its venues for large events. Other charges will apply.

I’ve been everywhere, man, but did I like being there? Barbados-June 22, 2021

My wife and I are both from islands within Caricom, but never lived on another one besides our homeland. I nearly went to live in Barbados when I was ready to leave the Bank of England in the late-1980s, but the offer to join the Caribbean Development Bank as an economist didn’t make financial sense. The interview visit had been an eye opener because I had assumed all islands were like Jamaica, not least with significant high points. Barbados is relatively flat, and you can see almost all of the island from its high points. But, some good things hit me on that brief weekend visit. Barbados has monkeys: I saw them on the beach. It’s visually appealling, especially seeing pretty sandy coastlines from almost every high point. I was also struck by the Bajan accent. 🙂 It was ironic that my wife’s job took us there, nearly two decades later. What did living there show me better?

Likes

Bus service island-wise: You never really had an excuse for taking a bus in the wrong direction because bus signs were marked ‘Into city’ and ‘Out of city’. Good thing, too, that the island is small enough to make a round trip by mistake no bad thing 🙂

Pudding and souse: I’d never give Bim’s food high marks compared to the rest of Caricom, but pudding and souse is worth the try and has its important place in social activities at weekends, when one could lime happily around eating this cold pickled pork dish, drinking and chatting aimlessly or fulsomely.

History matters: Barbados has a complicated slave history, like all of the Caricom countries, but for me have tried to manage the realities of that by not discarding historic relics. It has many preserved features of slave and plantation life, such as mills and some great houses and enough trappings to let people see how the country once was. You need that to tell the story, properly, in my mind.

Well-run, on the surface: Most things in Barbados appear to work well, and the country’s PR is great at pushing that message. But, it’s got some issues that would make you pull out your hair, in part because despite its progress, it’s still a small island in the Caribbean. It took months to get our new car, which we were told “Is on the water”! Opening a bank account and dealing with public sector agencies is still mired by that Caribbean brand of bureaucracy and redundancy.

Brighton Market: If we were caught in an odd place, it was enjoying going to the farmers’ market at dawn most Saturday mornings. This could have been a trip to an English village field, but it was set in the grounds of a working sugar cane farm. It offered ambience hard to beat and was a safe space for children to roam freely. The best fresh coffee on the island and nice food to go with it, whether fish cutters or occasional yummies of other kinds, and fresh fruit and vegetable to buy, plus some crafts, occasionally. Yes, it was mainly frequented by white Bajans and expats, but it was a great start to any weekend, and we often headed to Lemon Arbor for pudding and souse, after.

Dislikes

‘Little Englanders’: Bajans have a reputation amongst other Caribbean countries for being either ‘Little Englanders’ because of their close historical association with the UK and the constant flow of Brits who decide to take holidays there, bolstered by daily flights provided by British Airways. But, it shows up also in a clear distaste for other black Caricom citizens. We were dissed too many times in favour of British tourists for it not to be noticeable and a chilling ‘welcome’ at the airport was not what we liked.

Bajans love sticking it to Jamaicans how well they’ve done: I think I would have minded less if I had arrived in Barbados at a time when economic signs were pointing in a clearly good direction, in 2007, but I didn’t. Sadly, I pointed out what seemed like a glaring fiscal problem. That came to buck a decade later with (for Bajans, a dreaded IMF program in 2018). But, don’t mention that I told you so. I was not offering popular opinions on the radio call-in programme, ‘Down to brass tacks’. 🙂

Travel: It’s harder to get there than it should from anywhere in the Caribbean. I think that reality might have been worse on another island, but it’s still a major chore to have to duck in and out of a few islands on an air ‘milk bus’.

Polarized politics: I didn’t know it at the time, but living in Barbados was a good primer for life in Jamaica, where many issues are reduced to the colour of the party you’re assumed to support. My points about the economy labelled me as part of the ‘opposition’. What was ridiculous was that my point was valid when Barbados Labour Party (red) were in power and equally valid when they ceded power to the Democratic Labour Party (yellow). So, I was always one of the opposition!

Racial polarization: Black and white people don’t mix that much in Barbados. At a macro level, whites own the economy and blacks own the politics; that’s the ‘devil’s bargain’ that’s been struck. They races sort of co-exists, but the separation is pretty clear, no more so for things like Kadooment, during Crop Over, where there’s a (near) all-white troupe, named ‘Blue Box Cart’, who go out first each year. Nuff said!

Jamaica’s vaccination blitz catches cold and needs to correct a fiasco-June 21

However, you want to look at it, Jamaica’s vaccination programme hit a road block this past week. Depsite recent reassurances that enough doses were in available to give those needing their 2nd doses, we’ve had a week of people being told that was not so, and having scheduled appointments cancelled, pending supply arrivals.

We had chaotic scenes at the National Arena last Saturday, when people crowed outside the venue and it had to be closed early, with further doses only going to those over 50.

Part of the problem was total supply, but some problems were to do with vaccines being not distributed well across the island, with some rural sites nearly empty, according to eyewitness reports. Some wondered if JDF helicopters couldn’t have been used to help redistribute supplies over the weekend.

Unfortunately, much confusion happened as confirmed appointments were cancelled and people were struggling to rearrange their movements and policy decisions were being reversed quickly.

Ir’a not realistic for people to be online all the time and be ready to switch around at a moment’s notice. So, something will have to be done to honour commitments, within a day, at least.

I was called a week ago by RJR to talk about ‘vaccine hesitancy’ amongst Jamaica’s senior citizens. I was adamant that my view was that access was the major problem, not relucance to take vaccines (real hesitancy). I thought this was especially true in rural areas. Minister Tufton reiterated that access point, but now we will have to see the fall out from the weekend’s debacle and if it makes people less trustful of the vaccination processes and generate real hesitancy.

Adventures from Elle

Your Guide to Jamaica & Beyond

Filosofa's Word

Cogito Ergo Sum

Bloganuary

The blogging challenge keep you motivated and start the new year on the "write" track!

LBHF Libraries and Archives

"More than a library..."

Wise & Shine

Understanding ourselves and the world we live in.

danielgodsurelywilldeliver

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

The Accidental Ringer

thoughts from a novice ringer

Lluís Bussé

Barcelona's Multiverse | Art | Culture | Science

eddiepepperell

Who says Golf is everything?

mcdonaldrachael

My adventures as Founder, Director & Educator at Fundaciones Limited

ShaneKells

International School of Riga - Director

nadzspeaks

Mindspace, unleashing a few truths, but mostly concerned with life and the way I see it.

Dr CJPJ

Caribbean Woman, Paediatric Surgeon, Lover of Life

Albert Darnell Anderson

Just read, it'll inspire you!

"write pon di riddim"

multimodal site born to a decolonial feminist / cultural analyst / and dub doctor, Ph.D.

The Terrible Tout's Weblog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

CCRP Jamaica

Life to the Fullest!

%d bloggers like this: