First of all I believe each of us has a responsibility in dealing with COVID 19, however the overall responsibility in managing COVID is the responsibility of the Government.
Our responsibility as individuals is to ensure that we follow the protocols which includes but not limited to wearing masks, practicing social distancing and if you are COVID 19 positive, isolate yourself from others. The Government has a huge responsibility to ensure that COVID 19 is managing properly which includes adequate testing, making decisions about the opening of the country, implementing policies and procedures such as fines and curfews and also providing ways and means to individuals and businesses that were severely impacted as a result of COVID 19.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, the approach in dealing with COVID 19 has been less than acceptable and it is unbalanced.
A stimulus package was initially implemented that was catered primarily to one sector. Some of these individuals were getting half pay and were able to still benefit from the Government package while others did not get anything all. The one off payment of $1200 was for both Turks and Caicos Islanders and work permit holders but the business grants had a different criteria.
A second stimulus package has been introduced last week and again it is unbalanced. First of all let me congratulate the Government on providing an unemployment benefits for 8 weeks. How did the Government arrive at 2200?
I also noticed that the transportation sector was singled out. While I have empathy for the taxi drivers who appeared to not benefit from the previous package because their NIB were not up to date. There were also other individuals and businesses who could not benefit either from the first package because they did not pay NIB or their NIB was not up to date. The question is “Why singled out the transportation sector? I have no problem with taxi drivers getting a package but what about others? Is it because the taxi drivers demonstrated?
The curfew was implemented to try and contain the spread of COVID 19. What is significant about 7pm? The virus can be contracted at any time. We have open the country up allowing flights to come in but the curfew is at 7pm thus creating a negative impact for businesses particularly restaurants and some of them did not qualify for any type of grant.
We have also a have a limit on people for social gathering but as far as I know there is no limit on how many people can be in the grocery store.
The Testing for COVID 19
I believe more testing needs to be done as our current testing is at small percentage of our population. Therefore, I think we should do mass testing. It is best we know our condition through mass testing.
The Quarantine Process
We are sending people home who are positive and some of these same people are not staying at home and are out and about and thus the virus is being spread in the community. These individuals need to be in a facility and monitored by security. Another great suggestion from one of my friends is to tag the individuals and these individuals will not want to go out because they are tagged and if they do go out, we will know who these individuals are and can be reported.
The Minister and the Ministry
There seems to be a major communication gap between the Minister of Health and the Ministry. For example, when the Minister said the Private labs can commence testing, the Ministry put out a contrary statement. There are many other examples of the mixed messages coming from the Minister and Ministry
Private Medical Facilities
It took too long for the private facilities to get approval to do COVID 19 testing. Having private facilities in place can alleviate the burden off the National Lab. Thankfully, we now have three approvals.
Requirements to enter the country
The requirements to enter need to be reviewed. It should be 10 days and when the individuals arrive, the Government should utilized the private medical facilities to test these individuals upon arrival.
With that said, returning residents should be allowed to return home without taking a test in the country they visited. Let them take the test upon arrival in the islands.
I know that this is the first time for all to experience COVID 19 and therefore it may take a trial and error approach in dealing with this virus. However, we can learn from other countries and we should embrace and encourage dialogue with people in the private sector too. Therefore I can conclude that the managing of the COVID 19 has been undesirable and continues to get out of hand.