by Keith Ventour
After all is said and done, in the short span of just 4 weeks, our country jumped from 1 death on 30 August, to 105 on 24 September.
Our health authorities are overwhelmed and are still grappling with the exponential growth of cases, infections, hospitalisations and deaths. It has now become a daily conversation, a nightmare for many of us here and in the Grenadian diaspora, as we await the latest tally of deaths on the Grenada Covid-19 dashboard. On 24 September 2021, we surpassed the 100-death threshold with an average of 4 deaths per day for the given period.
We have now surpassed every country in the Eastern Caribbean including Barbados in terms of actual deaths, except for St Lucia which has 183 deaths. Grenada in now in a disparaging position in the world. We have earned the unenviable distinction of becoming the world leader for deaths per million in the last 7 days, and second only to Bermuda in the world for cases per million in the same period.
In the face of all this Grenadians are seized by a feeling of hopelessness and many are in a psycho-social condition where they are simply bracing themselves for worse things to come. We are told we are getting into a good place as the positivity rate is declining. Our public health officials would be well advised to give us the data on the Covid-19 dashboard as to be able to make our own analysis.
It is clear to anyone who is paying attention that the horse is already out of the stable. Covid-19 has reached every community and we can conservatively estimate that the pandemic has affected over 80% of workplaces. Our economic survival is being threatened as more community-based and self-employed business grind to a halt. Our major contributor to our economy’s GDP, St George’s University, has been forced to go virtual once again. The economic axis of our economy, tourism, is on a slippery slope, as the USA has put us on red alert, no-fly zone. The government is caught between a rock and the deep blue sea. There is the balancing act of sustaining some forms of economic activity, driven by the need to collect much-needed revenue and the shutting down of the so-called ‘non-essential businesses’ in the attempt to limit the spread of the virus. In this latter sector, most retail outlets and self-employed have been badly affected.
In all this, I am saddened by the untimely and unnecessary deaths of our senior citizens, especially at our convalescent homes. We had significantly enough knowledge and time to practically and systematically prepare for and to adequately protect our elderly. We witnessed this daily tragedy unfolding around the world for months, but we paid no heed. It is almost inexcusable, to say the least, for this to happen after all that we saw and knew. While I will still admonish the government, I am even more critical of the management structures/boards, staff and families of the residents of these institutions. Why should our centenarians, our national treasures, including arguably one of oldest persons in the world, 119-year-old Ms Leonora Massima Noel, have to succumb to Covid, while she was permanently housed at her home in Carriacou? The good lord may not forgive us for this act of negligence. While on the sister isles of Carriacou and Petite Martinique, I must indeed share my disappointment in how our government handled this “offshore parish.” As I contended in my previous article, the powers that be, were aware of the imminent community spread of Covid-19 in the country at the end of August to the beginning of September 2021. More stringent measures could have been put in place earlier, once the virus took root on the mainland, to avoid the inevitable spread. I note that no statistics are given for Carriacou and Petite Martinique on the Covid-19 dashboard. What is the way forward? What can we do in an attempt to derail Covid-19 off its deadly course? What are the imperatives? In my humble opinion, as I mentioned earlier, the horse has already bolted. There are not much more the powers that be can do to arrest this situation. However, the following needs to be done.
- The continued expansion of testing and vaccination in the communities. Vaccination must become the operative word in messaging. I must commend the Ministry of Health for enhancing the message by adding more articulate and sober voices in presenting the message to the public. I dare to say that many of us are privileged to be alive today, for without vaccinations, life expectancy globally would have been far less than the 70-80 years it is today in most regions of the world. There are some encouraging signs in the last 2 weeks that the vaccinated numbers have been on the increase. As of 24 September, about 60% of persons eligible to be vaccinated, received a 1st or 2nd dose. 36% of those received a 1st dose while 24% are fully vaccinated. I am aware that this has been a challenge for the lack of both human and material resources. It is hoped with the recovery of our nurses and other health providers, our human resources will be bolstered. There is also an urgent push by the Diaspora to get much-needed human resources and medical supplies to Grenada.
- A change of awareness and attitude among Grenadians. We must help each other to adhere to the established protocols of wearing of a mask, practicing social distancing, washing and sanitising of hands and very critical, avoid putting our hands in our faces. This is the sole pathway for this disease to enter our body. It’s also a wakeup call for us to begin to look closer at our personal health. Our eating habits must change from more acidic to more alkaline-based foods. More fruits and vegetables must be consumed. We should increase our intake of zinc and vitamins C and spend time in the God-given sunlight, which is natural vitamin D. All these personal changes in lifestyle are prerequisites to boosting our immune systems as to fight off diseases.
- We must not self-diagnose. Covid-19 symptoms are very similar to the common flu. We must seek testing and medical advice once we begin to have flu-like symptoms. The advantage in doing so is the reduction of the risk of one being positive and infecting others unknowingly. This can be a life and death decision.
Finally, I would like to reiterate, we must be each other’s keeper. We must continue to engage others in sensible and respectful discussions about the need to become vaccinated. We must follow the established protocols as a means of protecting ourselves and everyone else around us. I end with a noble quote taken from my good friend, “SHARED RESPONSIBILITY IS THE WAY OUT.” We all can succeed, or we all will fail together. May the good Lord continue to keep us healthy and safe in his vineyard.