Entornointeligente.com / This past week citizens breathed a collective sigh of relief as the retail sector reopened without a hitch. From tomorrow spas, beauty and barber salons and domestic services will be allowed to restart with operators being asked to maintain public health protocols at all times within reason and to the best of their ability.
This week will also see the rollout of Johnson and Johnson (J&J) one dose vaccines. Health officials said they will be rolling out these vaccines in rural communities and are seeking support from local government representatives and MPs.
The availability of the J&J vaccine provides citizens 12 years and older with choices that many other countries do not have, as they also have access to Pfizer, Astra Zeneca and Sinopharm vaccines.
However, worrying levels of vaccine hesitancy makes this range of choices virtually useless because not enough citizens offering their collective arms in a show of faith of the only scientific remedy thus far to a virus that has claimed more than 1200 lives in this country and millions more across the globe.
While there is freedom of choice in taking vaccines, there is an even more urgent reality facing T&T, the Caribbean and the world.
COVID-19 has spread like wildfire causing significant lockdowns, with T&T just starting to emerge from its latest which inflicted a severe economic toll, with loss of jobs, declines in income for families and depriving children of more than a year of in-person classes.
With so many people negatively affected, those with a fear of needles might want to consider this one-shot option as a means to skirting their fears.
The most recent data shows unemployment in the country as 4.6 per cent, although in reality, that figure might be in double digits and far worse following the closure of many businesses due to lockdowns. Unfortunately, there are no up to date figures on unemployment or poverty levels resulting from the pandemic and therefore no statistics to aid in charting a viable way forward for this country. That is a far cry from what exists in the developed world.
Dr Ralph Henry and Kairi Consultants, in a recent analysis published by the Media Institute of the Caribbean, described COVID-19 as a mega-shock. Even without up-to-date data, it can be anticipated that as much as half of the population of the region might be facing poverty.
Kairi Consultants concluded that indigence—food poverty—would have risen even in countries where it was negligible or did not exist before. It pointed to reports here in T&T of stampedes during distributions of free food hampers.
As recently as mid-August, Finance Minister Colm Imbert told the country the government had spent $5 billion in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of that amount, about $75 million had been spent to procure vaccines.
Those vaccines are now available to all of us. If T&T is to fully reopen and get back to normal, each of us must do our part. The health, economic and social impact of COVID-19 cannot escape us. Only with a unified approach will we be able to battle this coronavirus.
LINK ORIGINAL: The Trinidad Guardian