Dr. the Hon. Godwin Friday Leader of the Opposition Media Conference March 24, 2021
Managing COVID 19—Vaccination and Beyond
The COVID 19 situation in SVG is worse now than it was any time last year!
Despite the downplaying of the situation by members of the government, we must all know that the situation is still very bad and may not get much better anytime soon.
We must continue to do the things that make us safe: wear masks in public; social distancing; wash hands regularly; cough safely.
The best medical and scientific advice is to use vaccination to combat COVID 19. This is the safest and fastest way to get back functional society and economy.
In other parts of the world, especially Europe, USA and Canada, the pace of vaccination has accelerated. Those countries are looking to open their economies and societies sooner rather than later, despite recent setbacks.
I know people have concerns about the vaccines, some reasonable and some based on unfounded theories and disinformation.
We must take matter seriously and inform ourselves about vaccination from reputable and knowledgeable sources.
Ask those people here who have been vaccinated about the process and how they came to decide to be vaccinated. Then hopefully you will feel sufficiently informed and comfortable enough to be vaccinated. We need to do it to get our lives back and to get tourism back.
But no one should threaten you about vaccination. Proper information and the experience of those vaccinated here, I believe will lead most people to vaccinate.
No one should make offers that seem to be more political than based on public health concerns.
Van Driver Enticement
In this vein, the offer (or threat) by government to van drivers that if they take the vaccine, they can carry more passengers is nonsensical. It does not appear based on public health requirements. What sense does this make from a public health standpoint?
Carnival Enticement Further enticement to young people that if young people become vaccinated, they might have carnival this year is trivializing the important decision to be made in becoming vaccinated.
It also fails to recognize the effort and planning it takes to hold carnival, and is does not appreciate the difficulties and feelings of those people directly involved the various components of Carnival.
To reduce it simply as an enticement to the young people to take the vaccine. You know that I feel it is best for there to be widespread Vaccination.
But people need sound information that takes their concerns and fears into account and address them.
The Government must take it seriously and stop sending mixed messages, about what needs to be done and why it needs to be done.
Mental Health Rehab Centre COVID Outbreak
The outbreak of COVID-19 cases at the Mental Health Centre is very worrying. We have not had a good explanation for it. The authorities have failed to protect a vulnerable population. Over 106 cases including staff and patients.
17If there is a silver lining to the crisis at the Mental Health Centre, it is this: the crisis must be used as an opportunity to take a close look at the way we treat mentally ill people at the centre and in SVG overall.
For a long time, concerns have been raised about the care provided at the centre. There is still no psychiatrist at the facility. Though improvements were made to the centre, there is still overcrowding.
We should use this as an opportunity to commit to treating mental illness as an illnessand seek to provide treatment for sufferers.
School Disruption and Reopening
There is discussion about reopening schools.
Very important that we do so but it can only be done if it is safe to do so.
The current upsurge in COVID-19 cases here, and death of 10 people have understandably frightened people.
Thank God most people have responded by taking the necessary responded by taking the necessary measures to protect themselves and others, especially by using masks!
The Minister of Education must say how we are going to reopen safely.
As I understand it, this is what teachers and parents are asking for: it is what is required!
How will lost instruction time be made up? All important issues but no leadership in Government.