Latest update June 10th, 2023 12:59 AM
Jan 20, 2022 Features / Columnists, Peeping Tom
Kaieteur News – Two social media platforms recently asked their followers whether, in light of the spike in COVID-19 cases, schools should not be closed for a short period. Nine out of every 10 respondents said “yes”.
When it comes to schools and children, the overwhelming majority of Guyanese want schools to be closed. Ironically, if you asked the wider population whether there should be a two-week lockdown of non-essential businesses to curb the rising tide of coronavirus infections, those persons would answer in the negative.
The government is adamant that schools will not be closed. This reluctance, to temporary close the schools, comes in spite of the fact that it is being reported that more than 350 teachers have been affected by COVID-19.
The health sector is already being badly affected by COVID-19 infections. It was reported not so long ago that the large number of medical personnel affected by COVID-19 is creating havoc with the delivery of healthcare.
The fact of the matter is, there should be at least a two-week lockdown of non-essential services in Guyana. This is the only way we can ensure a shorter peaking of infections. But the majority of Guyanese do not want a lockdown. They want to make money and so long as they can make money, they are prepared to not support calls for temporary lockdown of non-essential businesses.
The country is now paying a huge price for this attitude. From a low of 636 active cases on December 28th last year, COVID-19 infections have skyrocketed to more than 12,000 as of 18th January, 2022. In less than 3 weeks, the total number of active cases has multiplied 17-fold.
That is enough for the country to go on lockdown. But after the five-month suffering between March and August 2020, Guyanese are in no mood to go into any lockdown. And the Opposition has not yet seen it fit to call for a temporary lockdown so as to help stabilise the situation.
Parents want a lockdown but the government is resistant. But parents have an option: they should refuse to send their children to school because they cannot be exposing their children to the risk of the virus simply because the Ministry of Education cannot yet see the wisdom of closing schools until this surge abates.
In California, schools are being forced to close their doors because there are simply not enough teachers available. Teachers are falling ill and the teaching profession is being badly affected.
In Islamabad, Pakistan, there is a flexible system. In areas where the positivity rate is more than 10 percent, children below the age of 12 will attend schools on a staggered basis. But if the positivity rate is below 10 percent, schools will continue as normal.
In Guyana, the positivity rate over the past two weeks has been in excess of 20 percent. This alone is reason to close all schools for a short period until the positivity rate declines.
Lockdowns have a price. But that price is going to be less than the cost of infections.
It is estimated that more than G$6 B has already been spent on testing. And it costs at least G$1M to treat every seriously ill COVID-19 patient when you factor in employment costs of medical personnel. And thousands of patients have already been hospitalised. This has already cost the Treasury billions of dollars.
So while there will be a cost to the economy for a two-week lockdown that cost is likely to be less than the medical costs of a rapid rise in infections.
There is equally a serious public health crisis emerging. As is evident now, many of the persons who are dying are younger. Children are falling victim to the virus both in terms of infections and deaths. Persons in their 40s are dying from the COVID-19 related causes. And still there is stubbornness to close schools and non-essential businesses for a brief period.
Parents who desire to see schools closed temporarily do not need to go on any protest in the streets. They can register their objections to the continued opening of schools by keeping their children at home. If thousands of parents keep their children at home, the government will get the message.
Teachers are in a more difficult position. If they stay away, they will not be paid and could lose their jobs. So it is all up to the parents to take action, and for the simple reason of protecting their children.
It is better to have learning loss than the loss of lives. You can always reverse learning loss. But you can’t reverse deaths. As a Guyanese proverb says, “post mortem can’t bring back de dead.”
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
Vote for progress!
Jun 10, 2023Kaieteur Sports – Sunil Narine entered the history books on Wednesday when he became only the third bowler to take 500 wickets in Twenty20s. The off-spinner claimed a single wicket for Surrey...
Jun 10, 2023
Jun 10, 2023
Jun 10, 2023
Jun 10, 2023
Jun 10, 2023
Kaieteur News – This column does not usually respond to criticisms because the column is intended to promote both the... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders Kaieteur News – As if small states, with limited financial and human resources to safeguard their... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]