Physician and member of Parliament for Central St. Mary Morais Guy is proposing the Jamaican government consider setting up large state quarantine centres as a more effective way to deal with the new coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile minimising the efficacy of home and community quarantine.
His recommendations fail to acknowledge:
- 4/5 people infected do not know how they became exposed or when they became infected
- Asymptomatic infected persons may infect others for 2-3 days prior to developing symptoms
- Most experts recommend everyone should consider themselves infected, hence the physical distancing recommendation
- The entire population of Jamaica would require immediate quarantine in a state facility
- The cost of providing quarantine for the entire population would be astronomical
- The need to disinfect buildings after quarantine would be overwhelmingly challenging and expensive especially since some experts indicate the virus can survive on certain types of surfaces for up to 17 days.
Dr. Guy over-emphasized the difficulties and negative impact home and community isolation/quarantine would have on those perceived exposed and requiring restricted community movement in order to benefit the entire society.
His assumptions thus clearly highlight the need for aggressive and ongoing education of the Jamaican population regarding the methods of disease spread, best disease ameliorating practices, and the positive impact such aggressive education and behaviour change would have for the entire society. He appears to imply Jamaicans are too illiterate, and too poor to understand what is in their best interest and are incapable of making behaviour change to achieve same.
His rational may indeed be correct based on his long years of political engagement but would in fact reflect negatively on politicians and their ineffective contribution to positive and uplifting change in society.
Should both the major Jamaican political parties consistently and relentlessly inform Jamaicans in clear and precise language regarding the do’s and don’ts about COVID-2019, the public would most likely appropriately respond. Conflicting information aimed at gaining political advantage has no place in a public health emergency. Had Dr. Guy referenced epidemiologists, the WHO, all other infection control experts supporting his recommendations, they likely would have more weight and gained more traction.
It is unfortunate that in 2020 Jamaican’s are still struggling “on the margins to eke out a daily living, if not a meal-to-meal existence” as Dr. Guy lamented. Maybe since many Jamaican’s have listened to the politicians over all these years and ended up in this position of abject poverty, Dr. Guy is right in saying Jamaicans will not listen any more to the directives or recommendations of politicians, who themselves are by contrast, relatively wealthy.
It may be much less costly, and more efficient to provide PPE’s (personal protective equipment) for security forces and healthcare providers/epidemiologist manning an entire quarantined community, than to do the same for multiple people securing a limited number of individual buildings able to accommodate only a finite number of people.
A fully educated population would NOT:
- require security personnel to enforce confinement, or abscond, understanding that these interventions are in their best interest.
- ignore isolation procedures and thus put at risk vulnerable and unexposed individuals
- misunderstand the implications of and necessity for “community lock-down as happened in the communities of Seven and Eight Miles, Bull Bay, and Corn Piece in Hayes, Clarendon”.
The rationale behind community quarantine or isolation is to decrease person-to-person spread. Again, most people do not know if they have been exposed, when they were exposed, and a yet to be defined percentage can transmit the infection before developing symptoms. Aggressive community isolation has been shown to be effective in China, and several states in the US including New York. Infectious disease experts and epidemiologists worldwide support this approach.
For people anywhere experiencing COVID19 “life has been hellish for them”. However, most people are beginning to accept and understand the risks to themselves, their family members, the wider community, and especially to healthcare providers who do not have the personal protective equipment they need to safely deliver care to the infected and those most at risk. Full and immediate cooperation, they understand, could also minimise the severity and negative impact of the likely significant economic impact.
A fully educated and engaged population, hearing a unified message, not polarised by political interests would not make “social reintegration after the requisite period very difficult and inhospitable for the individuals” who were quarantined in the society’s best interest.
This is a turning point in the life of everyone residing in Jamaican. And despite the unfortunate circumstance offers rare opportunity to significantly and positively, and forever, introduce positive behaviour change in the society.
No weh no betta than yard. We can do it for ourselves and for Jamaica!
Guest Author: Leon Wright
Remember to share this article on Facebook and other Social Media Platforms. To submit your own articles or to advertise with us please send us an EMAIL at: [email protected]