Total lockdown! The whispers keep growing to the point where they now coalesce just short of a crescendo. The thinking and sense that a total lockdown is almost here is now like a public secret. Our position at this publication is that if this is what it has to be, then it must be based on the soundest reasons.
We remind our readership that we had been in the vanguard of the early charge that called for a lockdown prompted at that time by spiralling concerns over the arrival and potential lethal assaults of the COVID-19 virus. There were heavy concerns over the state of preparations and readiness of Guyana’s health sector for what had promised to be a calamity of major national proportions. There is gratitude that, thus far, we have been spared the worst of the global onslaught, through the grace of divine providence (for those so believing) and the sterling efforts of our medical professionals at all levels of the health sector.
Our concerns and anxieties have been stayed and managed, but they have not diminished to anywhere near the level that is desired, and which would lead to the long exhalation of broad-based and settled relief. Prudent counsels implemented, such as curfews in place, identification of the areas that are essential, imposing mandatory individual masking and social distancing standards, among other measures taken, have contributed to limiting our coronavirus statistics. This is comforting, but there is still the hovering sense that enough has not been done, and that there is more that must be delivered to reassure the Guyanese public.
There are reports of what we will term ‘leakages’ in the contingencies employed, and at some of the more obvious hot spots. The Palms stands out as one of the places, which failed to register on the priority radar of those at the helm, with the result that they were not galvanized into immediate and comprehensive containing actions that the circumstances required. Some rearguard efforts have occurred with more being announced almost daily. This is encouraging, but the lesson from this is to be aware of the menaces and in front with the controlling steps necessary to contain this mortal enemy.
There continue to be reports, complete with pictures, of wilful violations by individuals and groups, who cluster unheedingly in such popular, or necessary, places as bars and service centres and the municipal markets and private stores. Reckless citizens who display the swagger of not complying with restrictions and loudly profess to not caring, endanger the sensible who do care for the health and welfare of themselves and loved ones. And it is this place at which we arrive.
We hope that it is not necessary for a total national lockdown to be imposed. But, if the situation is considered potentially catastrophic enough, then there is no choice, so it must be. The numbers, though not confidence-inducing from day one as to their authenticity and accuracy, keep climbing, with more reported cases confirmed. This is alarming, especially when Guyana had such a head start-with regard to time to take protective actions, lessons learned from mistakes made overseas, the steady guidance from recognized locally-based and foreign experts-to rachet up its barricades to a state of the highest alertness and do all within its grasp to guard the wellbeing of all citizens, from top to bottom and across the board.
As much as we try, we think and feel that efforts have fallen short. This is with full consideration given to scarce resources and other limiting factors. As the numbers mount (we speak not of damning elections), there is the belief that the worst may be still ahead. We pray that on this we are terribly wrong.
Therefore, it is with the greatest of misgivings that we await word and development of total lockdown. We trust that one thing would be completely and convincingly off the table in any such move. That one thing is politics. To elaborate on where we are: it is that recount disputes, broader elections calculations, and overall political visions will play absolutely no part in any decision to implement a national lockdown. Public safety, national health and wellbeing must be the only considerations.
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