Kaieteur News- The rapid spike in COVID-19 deaths suggests clearly that the high number of daily new cases (now averaging almost 100 per day) does not involve fudging of numbers. While it is necessary for there to be an audit between the Ministry’s numbers and the tests results from the laboratories, it is most probable that there is no misrepresentation.
The increase in cases have precipitated calls for a lockdown of at least the regions recording the highest number of new cases – Three, Four and Seven. But the government is not likely to heed any calls for even a limited and targeted lockdown.
The private sector would not allow the government to do so. The PPP/C is chained to the business class and as far as that class is concerned their business interests – the need for them to make money – is going to be severely affected by a lockdown and so they will not demand any such restrictions from government.
The government’s interest is in protecting the economy. And if the private sector comes forward tomorrow and says to the government that a lockdown is needed, the government would be hard-pressed to resist.
It is the private sector’s opinion that matters. Not the workers nor civil society. These two latter constituencies can plead for tighter restrictions. These pleas will fall on deaf ears because the opinions which matter the most to the government is that of the private sector.
The representative body for teachers was concerned about the partial reopening of schools. Those concerns were ignored as classes resumed for three grade levels.
The rest of the trade union movement is also not inclined to call for the imposition of restrictions. They appreciate the difficulties which workers experienced during the five months period when little was happening in the country because of the pandemic and the elections’ impasse. The APNU+AFC had nothing to offer those affected. Many workers were laid off and others forced to suffer because of the shutdown of non-essential businesses.
Given the sympathies of the government with the business class and the experience between March and August of 2020, the PPP/C is not going to return to a state in which non-essential businesses will be asked to close their doors, workers given the option of working from home or on rotation and for curfew hours to be extended. This is not going to happen and so it is a waste of time pleading for additional social restrictions.
The PPP/C continues to blame citizens. It forgets that the role of government is to take action to protect citizens. It wants citizens to be more responsible. But a responsible government would have taken steps to protect its citizens from the irresponsible elements.
The government had to have known the consequences when it moved full steam ahead in reopening the economy after August. It had to have calculated, based on evidence from around the world that this would have resulted in more cases and more deaths. The government itself has said it had a delicate balancing act of saving lives while trying to avoid an economic meltdown.
It is clear now that this government’s strategy has failed and it has failed because enforcement has been poor and testing has not reached the desired levels. The number of new daily cases now suggests that the virus is running rampant throughout the society and the country will definitely see hundreds of more deaths before this pandemic is over.
Given Guyana’s death rate, a good guide is that for every 40 new cases recorded, one person is going to die. And over the past week, there has been hundreds of new cases.
The government is encouraging persons to get vaccinated. But the evidence from around the world is mixed. Israel and the United Kingdom have seen a steep decline in deaths due to the vaccination. But in the United States, while deaths have fallen appreciably, an average of more than 800 persons are still dying every day and infection rates are extremely high despite close to one-third of the population receiving at least one dose of the vaccine.
The lesson in all of this is that vaccination by itself is no silver bullet. If the United Kingdom did not impose lockdowns, its vaccination campaign would not have been effective as it has been.
But do not tell that to the pro-business PPP/C. Despite its own claims about the pressures on our hospitals and the COVID-19 ICU, the PPP/C remains deaf to the appeal and the analysis which clearly suggests that vaccination alone cannot contain the virus.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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