Expert says Gov’t hasty in removing mask mandate
At least one public health expert has expressed concerns over the Government's decision to lift the mandate on persons wearing masks in enclosed places to which the public has access.
The mandate, which was announced yesterday by the Office of the Prime Minister, expires on Friday. Travellers to Jamaica will also no longer have a COVID-19 pre-test requirement for entry. Professor Winston Davidson believes the Government is being hasty in its decision, despite the low COVID positivity rates globally.
"The pandemic is not yet over so therefore I don't think that the control for persons coming to Jamaica, which has been the main source of infection, those controls should be abandoned at this time," he said. Davidson, a former head of public health and health technology at the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech Ja), also said that Jamaica should not try to pattern larger countries who have abandoned several of its COVID protocols in an attempt to get back to normal life.
"Those countries, I can tell you, are loose in their control measures and they do not respect the protocols. What I am saying is that we don't have the resources to fight it in the way that they have and so we have to put in the basic fundamental protocols and measures to protect our people. And I think that it may not be the most opportune time to take away that barrier, that protective barrier for Jamaican people, by saying that persons who come into Jamaica are no longer required to have a test to determine whether or not they have COVID," he said.
He opined that Jamaica is exposing itself to becoming reinfected.
"I would not like, for example, to see the measures that we have put into the tourism sector, that is to say the resilience corridor, that has been the main backbone of keeping our tourism industry literally free from being identified as a major source of infection into the country, I would not like to see those measures lifted," he said. "You have to protect the industry and the country, because the main problem with an island like Jamaica is that all the conditions causing our country to be infected have, in fact, come from abroad."
Meanwhile, senior citizen Princess Cole said that despite the discomfort associated with wearing masks, the mandate should remain.
"I am still a likkle fearful, but I realise that the young people dem nah watch nothing still, especially those that are vaccinated and feel say nothing will happen to dem. But although the mask is very annoying because sometimes yuh feel like yuh wah tear it off yuh face, we still have the virus dealing with somewhat," she said. "I think, seeing that this thing will always be in the air like a flu, and because it can be so serious with its different mutations, we being older are at risk and our immune system is not as strong as the young people."
Keith Kellier, who like Cole is a store clerk, said that he contracted the virus.
"I never felt afraid or anything when I found out because as dem say di virus attack a weakened immune system the most, and my immune system is strong because mi always a do something fi exercise. It come in like a flu, and mi did always hungry... mi also couldn't smell anything for about two or three days. So seeing that the virus still deh bout, mi think the mask wearing should be around still," he said.