As I listened to the Minister of Health address the nation last night on the television, I thought to myself he sounded a bit nervous.
It would seem to me that while the government is trying their best to keep the Barbadian community calm in the face this global pandemic, they must be aware that people are not only relying on local media to stay informed of the progression of the coronavirus, COVID-19. Although the government is offering reasonable advice to the nation as it relates to the prevention of contraction through social distancing and the heightened practice of best hygiene, it seems unsure of the actions to take, to do so in other areas.
One of the more questionable statements made by the Minister of Health in the above mentioned address to the nation was related to the non-closure of our boarders. One of his rationales for having the boarders kept open was, countries that had taken that action still had the virus in them. I am thinking that countries that have closed their boarders to international traffic, have done so to help contain the spread of the virus by limiting its entry into the space. Are we going to wait until we have an alarming number of CORVID-19 cases confirmed before we do so? Note that just yesterday the government was giving all their wonderful justifications for not closing schools, yet thankfully the nation awoke to the news that they would be closed in response to the virus. Personally I think that the government realized that teachers and parents did not give a damn about their decision to keep schools open, and were going to place their personal health and that of their families first and act in a preventative manner and not attend. I am pleased to see the power of the people in their resolve to defy government’s irresponsible mandate to keep schools open. Added to my pleasure is the fact that the government had the presence of mind not to put the people’s resolve to the test and keep schools open.
Now that we have teachers and students safely out of the way, I think we need to look at people who work in supermarkets. Why should supermarket workers be an area of focus for the government and the private sector? Simple, these workers will encounter the closest interactions with the general public and visitors to the island in significant numbers. The public can pay bills online for the most part, relax on the purchasing of non-essentials and curtail/stop our public social gathering, but we must travel to the supermarket and market for food, toiletries and such. I am guessing that the average cashier at the Carlton and A1 supermarket interacts with over 100 persons within their eight hour day. It is my thinking that this group of people should be considered as one that has a high risk possibility of virus contraction.
Supermarkets should develop plans of actions that enhances staff and customer safety. They should;
- Mandate all workers to wear masks when at work, especially in the actual supermarket around food items, and serving customers.
- Limit the number of persons allowed to enter the supermarket at any given time. This will allow person shopping to practice social distancing while going about their business.
- The reduction of working hours and the hiring of additional staff would ease the physical and mental challenges of the job, resulting in a stronger mind and body for the employee.
- The wearing of gloves for cashiers should be mandatory.
I conclude this article with my thoughts on something else that the Barbadian Minister of Health said as he addressed the nation. He made it perfectly clear that the action of the government in response to COVID-19 was based on surveillance and observation. The Minister also said that surveillance at the ports of entry only detected persons showing symptoms of the virus, but it is possible for someone to have it and not be showing the symptoms on arrival. These people are asked when they develop symptoms to call the hot line or their doctor. This means by the time the person is aware of their situation, they may have spread it to lord knows how many, and unable to retrace every step between time of arrival and the time of confirmation that they have the virus.
I think we need to close the boarders now or at least restrict entry to returning citizens, essential personnel and goods.
If you want to save the economy, save the people.