Guest Editorial submitted by Timothy A Caines
With the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus in SKN, there has been much ado about fault, blame, failure. The reality is, this was inevitable. But this inevitability is not rooted in failure. Au contraire, it is rooted in success. Success on the part of the Harris Administration; but also elements opposed to it.
When Covid-19 descended on the world a year and a half ago, needless to say that most countries were unprepared. The dynamic and fluid nature of the virus left everyone having to mould their own template for responses, though some actions overlapped. As the smallest independent nation in the Western Hemisphere, St. Kitts and Nevis fared better than most, anywhere in the world. No need to rehash the specifics. The record on that is fact. Undeniable. Unassailable. Unbiased.
So great was the success of staving off the virus for so long, that we got relaxed and complacent. A year ago, everyone was masked up, hand sanitizing and social-distancing. In the ensuing months, with no cases imported, spread, or illness; we accepted that we were “Covid-free”.
We dropped our guard, despite the continuing admonitions of our Government and Health Ministries to keep doing as we were doing. Then, the vaccine rollout met with some initial and continuing resistance, for varying reasons, some of which we will explore.
Individual relaxation and complacency are the bases for which we now have such high numbers of cases. Had this individual – patient zero of this current outbreak – come to our shores a year ago, we likely would not have had this outbreak. Definitely not these numbers being reported.
The lesson for us is that the war is still raging, notwithstanding that we were, and all things considered, are still winning.
With the vaccine rollout there came a new dynamic. Whereas before, we had for the most part, a oneness of purpose in the fight against the virus, seemingly when we got our “best weapon”, we began to divide.
Given the rapidity of the development of the vaccine, there was leeway to be given to the skeptics of the vaccine then, and even now to some extent. But it has become clearer every day, now demonstrably so, that there are elements among us who do not want the country to do as well as it has being doing.
Elements, seemingly longing for such an outbreak; wanting the country to lockdown, and the economy to further shutdown. These elements have sought to, and have had fair success, in stoking fear and mistrust in the vaccine and by extension, in the government. Covert at first, there is now no hiding it. The question is why?
An objective person could have initially thought that the actions of these elements were out of genuine concern for the safety and welfare of our citizens and residents, and for the best decisions to be made for us all. But when one examines the reality, one would conclude otherwise.
If we, as a country, have to move a large boulder from east to west, and the government is on the west side pulling at the boulder with our arms, a critic can be taken seriously if he suggests moving to the east side and pushing westward. The reason given being “because then we can more utilize our legs which have the strongest muscles in our body”.
If solutions and alternatives are not being offered to the criticized decisions and actions of the government that these elements claim to not be the best, then the goal for them cannot be finding those best solutions.
What can be observed from these elements, is crafted spin on every action and utterance of the Government and health officials, to “muddy the water” as much as possible. But for what purpose?
There is the old adage “A divided house cannot stand”. Well, a divided St. Kitts and Nevis cannot defeat the virus. And these opposing elements know it. We have every indicator of that in the successes we have when we moved as one when the virus first transgressed our shores a year and change ago – as opposed to the much harder battle we are currently engaged in.
It is never easy when you have to fight an enemy at the gates, and saboteurs inside the city.
If we fail in our fight against Covid-19, the blame will be laid squarely at the feet of PM Harris and his Administration. No ifs, ands, or buts. And this, given the evidence at hand, is the “why?” and “for what purpose?” asked.
The critiquing without solutions from these elements. The claims that people need more information without trying to produce it. The claims of wrong data without producing the right ones. The sowing of distrust in the majority of our medical professionals and the accepted science. The dangerous misinformation.
Elements seemingly are prepared for the country to suffer, to be put at risk of years of setback, if it could weaken PM Harris and his Administration.
But who are they asking to pay the price? If these elements succeed in sowing sufficientmisinformation, distrust and fear that the virus spirals out of control, and the country is forced into a full lockdown and economic shutdown, who suffers most? Whose health is most at risk? Whose social norms are most at risk? Whose children’s education is most at risk? Whose jobs are most at risk?
A wise man used to say “Don’t let anyone take away your bread and can’t give you crackers”.
We are in this fight together and we will win through to absolute victory, but we must do it together. We have been, and are winning, notwithstanding the fierceness of the current battle. Commendations are due to Prime Minister Harris and his Administration for an excellent job so far.
The new measures, the ramped up testing, the robust and exhaustive contact tracing have been effective in containing the spread of the virus. It is up to us, the individual citizens and residents, to stop it.
Prime Minister Harris often speaks of “shared responsibility”. There is no greater time for it than now. The Government is doing its part and its best. Let us do ours again.