THE pandemic has forced me to constantly readjust my expectations of returning to normalcy because it has been such an enduring phenomenon. We’re living in these strange circumstances that we have to contend with, so that we can keep ourselves and the people around us safe from the devastating effects of COVID-19. And I understand how frustrating it is, but that does not warrant reckless and irresponsible behaviours.
Last weekend was the ‘New Year’s’/ Old Year’s’ weekend and the weekend before, there were the Christmas festivities. These are usually times for social activities — parties, religious services, and family gatherings. But this time around we were supposed to reduce our involvement in these activities, keep our celebrations small and avoid spreading the virus. We were expected to do these things to keep safe and there were even national guidelines in place, but we didn’t.
As per the gazetted COVID-19 guidelines, we have a curfew in place from 10:30 PM to 4:00 AM and there is a litany of restrictions on social gatherings. Rum shops, bars, and such entertainment activities are a no-no. But it would appear as though these are just words printed onto a piece of paper and published into our official gazette for publishing’s sake, because these restrictions are being breached all the while.
The massive gatherings continued and increased during the holiday season. And if that wasn’t bad enough, we’ve never been people who were diligent users of face masks and shields, and who knows how intentional we’ve been in sanitising ourselves frequently. It was both reckless and irresponsible because it meant that we were knowingly contributing to the spread of a virus that has claimed the lives of more than 160 Guyanese since March 2020.
This pandemic has disrupted the entire world, but for the sake of ‘vibes’ or a ‘good time’ we didn’t care if it meant we were exacerbating the situation in Guyana.
Recently, Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony said that the health sector was preparing for a spike in the number of local cases, following the Christmas season activities when many persons failed to adhere to the national measures.
The incubation period for the SARS-COV-2 (COVID-19) is approximately 14 days and this means that anytime we should start seeing an increase in the number of infected persons. Not only does this mean that more persons will be infected and possibly suffer from mild to severe symptoms, but it also means that there is a chance that persons who are vulnerable to the more devastating and life-threatening effects are increasingly at risk. Again, it was reckless and irresponsible to engage in these activities.
I remember a few months ago, as I interviewing persons about their perceptions of the virus and the pandemic, they said things such as, “the government isn’t doing a good job” and “the government gon get money if plenty people get sick.” Then, towards the end of 2020, many persons hopped onto social media and called out the “double standard” of the enforcement authorities because entities were flagrantly disregarding the guidelines, while it seemed as though the average citizen was supposed to rigidly follow them. Public officials, too, were openly breaching these guidelines.
For me, personal responsibility has always been paramount. Wearing my mask, sanitising often, and avoiding gatherings have been choices I made because I don’t want to contribute to the spread of the virus. And I think it has to be the same for us all. We have to be intentional about our efforts to protect against COVID-19. We can’t just wait on the President, the Minister of Health, or some public official to flip some switch and immediately cure Guyana of the coronavirus. It won’t happen.
We cannot continue to be irresponsible with this virus and more so now that there is news of a more transmissible variant. This is, also, a new virus. This means that we don’t wholly know the long-term effects it can have on each of us. Our best and safest option is to try, as much as reasonably possible, to safeguard against contracting the virus and help to mitigate the spread of it.
Please continue wearing your masks, maintaining an appropriate physical distance, sanitising often and avoiding large gatherings. Protecting against COVID-19 is not only for our individual safety, but also for those around us.
If anyone is displaying any of the symptoms associated with COVID-19 or needs any additional information, kindly contact the COVID-19 Hotline 231-1166, 226-7480, or 624-6674 immediately or visit www.health.gov.gy.
If you would like to discuss this column or any of my previous writings, please feel free to contact me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org