COVID outbreak brewing? Jamaican Twitter wonders if we value ‘politics over pandemic’

People’s National Party (PNP) candidate for West Central St James, Dr Andre Haughton and his supporters celebrate his successful nomination on Tuesday, while Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) candidate for Eastern St Andrew Fayval Williams and her loyal base invade sections of Mona Road. The common denominator, BUZZ fam? Social distancing (or the lack thereof) and the absence or improper use of masks amid the island’s coronavirus crisis.

The political theatre is in full swing following a colourful, jubilant Nomination Day on Tuesday (August 18), however, there are growing concerns that Jamaica could have a widespread outbreak on its hands once the curtains close on the September 3 general elections.

Both members and supporters of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), as well as the main opposition People’s National Party (PNP), were out in their numbers, but there were several notable things missing: a clear disregard for social distancing and virtually no masks being worn.

From Westmoreland to St Thomas, politics has taken centre stage and ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis seems to no longer be at the forefront of our concerns.

Jamaica, have we lost our collective minds? Are we totally ignoring the COVID-19 pandemic?

There’s nothing new about election season but, clearly, being in the midst of an outbreak (that we are by no means in control of) should be enough for us to pause and recalibrate how to safeguard the lives of the very same people you seek votes from? Or, is it just me? Am I missing something?

We are currently having such a challenge getting returning Jamaicans to respect the quarantine mandate, so in that same breath, why do we think this will end differently?

Complacency is rife and there are so many people who outright refuse to wear masks unless forced to (for example, when a company requires masks to enter its offices)—do you see how badly this could go?

Lest we forget, the current caseload stands at 1,146 (293 of which are active), following the confirmation of 17 new cases as of Tuesday. Hospitalisations are on the rise, every parish is currently affected and the public health sector hangs on by the thinnest of threads.

For one thing, I’m glad I’m not alone in my concerns as the sentiment on Twitter shares in my fears of worse to come.

With all due respect, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, it is one thing to emphasise infection control and preventative measures at a press conference for you to then totally disregard said suggestions in your bid to shore up support for your JLP candidates.

Deleting tweets after the fact do little to instil trust, by the way.

Stuck between a government out of touch and an opposition just desperate for power—I hate it here.

As for you, Dr Peter Phillips, the fact that you’ve hinted on having no plan to manage a likely outbreak is just as troubling.

What many concerned Jamaicans like myself see happening when the dust clears on this election is the island goes back into lockdown and more sacrifices have to be made. And it doesn’t sit well with me. At all.