Economía

Mercedes Benz Miami | Surviving the COVID storm

The chal­lenge fac­ing T&T is clear and very daunt­ing. Dr Row­ley is right. In our epic bat­tle against COVID-19, lock­downs are no longer a vi­able op­tion. In­stead, there must be more em­pha­sis on con­vinc­ing vac­cine-hes­i­tant adults to get im­mu­nised in the push for herd im­mu­ni­ty.

T&T will not be able to re­turn to pre-pan­dem­ic ways of work­ing, learn­ing and so­cial­is­ing—free of face masks and phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing—un­til safe ways are found to live with COVID-19.

In his lat­est warn­ing about the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic as he wrapped up par­lia­men­tary de­bate on the mo­tion to end the State of Emer­gency (SoE) on Wednes­day, Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley said: “The storm is with us, and we are go­ing full speed ahead.”

It was a ref­er­ence to the lat­est wave of the pan­dem­ic to hit the coun­try. On the very day that Dr Row­ley of­fered that grim as­sess­ment, an as­tound­ing 781 new cas­es of COVID-19 were re­port­ed by the Min­istry of Health—a new dai­ly record for cas­es.

How­ev­er, un­like pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sions when there were up­surges in cas­es and deaths, PM Row­ley said there will be no lock­ing down of the econ­o­my this time around. In­stead, he said cit­i­zens will have to “buck­le down and sur­vive by fight­ing the virus.”

That is a tall or­der in this coun­try, where ef­forts to fight the coro­n­avirus have been im­ped­ed by vac­cine re­sis­tance, pan­dem­ic fa­tigue, lib­er­al shar­ing of mis­in­for­ma­tion and the Trin­bag­on­ian propen­si­ty for flout­ing rules and abus­ing loop­holes in pub­lic health reg­u­la­tions.

Just this week, Guardian Me­dia re­port­ed ex­clu­sive­ly on gaps in the home quar­an­tine sys­tem which made it near im­pos­si­ble to mon­i­tor peo­ple placed un­der those or­ders. It is thus pos­si­ble for in­fect­ed per­sons to breach their quar­an­tines, go out in pub­lic and lib­er­al­ly spread the in­fec­tion.

That is why the lift­ing of the SoE has led to very re­al fears of fla­grant pub­lic health breach­es that could make our al­ready dire COVID-19 sit­u­a­tion much worse. There are con­cerns about an in­crease in su­per-spread­er limes and par­ties that will test the ca­pac­i­ty of the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice (TTPS)

How T&T sur­vives this lat­est COVID storm re­quires that cit­i­zens be­come much more dis­ci­plined and adopt prac­ti­cal ways to live safe­ly with COVID-19.

Med­ical ex­perts have said that the goal of ze­ro COVID-19 in­fec­tions is un­re­al­is­tic, even if strin­gent pub­lic health reg­u­la­tions are en­forced. The fo­cus should in­stead be on en­sur­ing enough peo­ple get some lev­el of im­mu­ni­ty, prefer­ably through vac­ci­na­tion, for COVID-19 to tran­si­tion to the en­dem­ic stage.

Get­ting this coun­try to the stage of few­er hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tions and deaths from COVID-19, al­though cas­es may con­tin­ue to rise and fall, should be the main ob­jec­tive. In ad­di­tion, ef­forts to flat­ten the pan­dem­ic curve—a goal that has not been men­tioned in months—must con­tin­ue to pre­vent the col­lapse of the al­ready over­whelmed par­al­lel health­care sys­tem.

As ar­du­ous a task as it has be­come, ef­forts to get the un­vac­ci­nat­ed to take a vac­cine must con­tin­ue. Every un­vac­ci­nat­ed per­son is an op­por­tu­ni­ty for the virus to mu­tate and be­come more in­fec­tious and dead­ly.

And if that were not bad enough, the lat­est med­ical re­search shows vari­ants like Be­ta, Gam­ma and now Delta, are erod­ing some of the pro­tec­tion pro­vid­ed by the vac­cines.

The chal­lenge fac­ing T&T is clear and very daunt­ing. Dr Row­ley is right. In our epic bat­tle against COVID-19, lock­downs are no longer a vi­able op­tion. In­stead, there must be more em­pha­sis on con­vinc­ing vac­cine-hes­i­tant adults to get im­mu­nised in the push for herd im­mu­ni­ty.

T&T will not be able to re­turn to pre-pan­dem­ic ways of work­ing, learn­ing and so­cial­is­ing—free of face masks and phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing—un­til safe ways are found to live with COVID-19.