Continuous lockdowns are not the answer

Dear Editor,

I traveled to the United States in July when the borders first opened and was in three different cities. I also went again in September, this time traveling from different states. Although there is a pandemic, what I realized was that people were working as normal, but the setups were different. In fact, clothing stores, malls, food stores, restaurants and bars, etc., were all opened and not just to curbside services, but also indoor services too.

Life has become different in the way we all maneuver, but for America and other countries like China, Taiwan and Vietnam, daily life has somewhat returned to normal. We must ask the question: what are these countries doing? How are they keeping the virus under control? How is their economy still flowing?

We are eight months into this pandemic and we are completely stuck on a cycle of continuous lockdowns with no definitive plan for job and economical reform, healthcare and education. In my opinion, we acted too late; we have been reactive instead of being proactive. When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

When this virus touched our country and the cases grew, the first step was a lockdown and I was very much in agreement to help stop the spread, but there was a lockdown after a lockdown and to date, still a lockdown. This administration says it works on statistics, but what they really did during the lockdowns was waiting and squandering to see what would happen instead of being proactive and preparing ahead.

We have seen the case numbers go up and also down. At one point earlier on, it was as if we were on the right track by stopping the spread and curbing the number of cases. But as we see, we didn’t.

So, instead of changing and replacing these continuous lockdown measures with a rapid testing and contact tracing solution and a larger quarantine station, which in my opinion could have been structured already, there have been changes within the emergency powers orders, less restrictions then more restrictions — this circus of information with no fallback measures.

This administration has proven that its only hope is a lockdown, as if it was a bad dream that would go overnight.

The competent authority by now should realize that lockdowns do not change the situation of the virus; they buy us time and, quite frankly, time is running out. Thousands of Bahamians and businesses are constrained with the claim that “we are saving lives”, but the question is, are we really or are lives being damaged daily?

We don’t need another national address. We need an address with a plan. We need an address that focuses on strategies to deal with this virus. And the answer is not lockdowns; it can’t just be that. Look at the economy and social climate. We’re going into next year holding the same plan; it’s shameful!

What we need right now is a better system, a working system that helps with tracing and testing, a system that allows free testing; drive-up testing where individuals are able to get their results back in 24 hours. This would help curb the numbers big time. Not only that but with the information of each patient, contact tracing would be more effective and that way the COVID-19 ambassadors can have an advantage.

We need stronger guidance on measures as it relates to COVID. Making people further aware about staying away from crowded places and badly ventilated spaces; using masks and carrying sanitizers. Each member of Parliament should have already donated masks and hand sanitizers to their constituents by now. Most importantly, we need a stricter border policy than what we have now. The one we have is whack and poorly monitored.

This virus is still in a study stage. This pandemic is here for a while. While we hope that it will just disappear, it’s not reality. But locking us down is continuously hurting the economy.

We must take advantage and learn what these other countries are doing. Look to bringing in consultants to help us because we need help. With this course we are on, I am afraid for our future. We need to regain some normality, if not, God save us all!

Dr. Matheo Smith

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