It should not have come to this. Had there been enough discipline within our population for widespread adherence to public health protocols, the “big stick” approach now being implemented by the T&T Police Service (TTPS) would not have been necessary to deal with yet another spike in COVID-19 cases.
But there are very few options left. While the authorities have been reluctant to confirm that this latest upsurge is, in fact, the third wave of the pandemic in this country, the numbers now being reported daily by the Ministry of Health show the full grim picture.
Just hours into his new assignment as Minister of National Security, Fitzgerald Hinds had pandemic enforcement high on his agenda when he met Wednesday with Police Commissioner Gary Griffith about the deployment of special teams of officers to ensure compliance with the health regulations.
The result is closer scrutiny of citizens’ daily activities in a more sustained effort to clamp down on irresponsible behaviour in breach of the pandemic protocols. The hope is that the most egregious of the violations will be halted by the threat of punishment.
There is no disputing the fact that human behaviour of the worst kind is the main driving force behind this latest spike. Breaches of the public health regulations had become more frequent in the weeks leading up to this latest spike, with fewer people wearing masks and more gathering at bars and other liming spots.
Easter weekend escapades were the fertile breeding ground for the accelerated spread of the coronavirus, so here we are two weeks later with hundreds of new positive cases threatening to surpass the levels of the previous wave in mid-2020.
That we have once again arrived at this point means that several cycles of infection have occurred, leading to a noticeable increase in numbers as shown in the data from health officials.
No matter how many accusing fingers might be pointed at the authorities about the restrictions that have been reintroduced, the unavoidable truth is that these COVID-19 surges are due to the behaviours of people moving around more freely and with less regard for the pandemic protocols.
It cannot be said too often that if everyone wears masks, washes their hands and practices social distancing, there will be much less transmission of the virus.
More transmissible variants of coronavirus have also been detected, increasing the risk of serious illness and death. There are no second chances with COVID-19.
It has been proven by research from some of the world’s most reputable medical entities that something as simple as washing hands reduces the risk of contracting the disease by 35 per cent. Add to that wearing of a cloth mask and the risk drops to 45 per cent, a surgical mask reduces the risk of contraction by 70 per cent and that, coupled with physical distancing, reduces the risk by 85 per cent.
Unfortunately, not enough of us are willing to play a part in slowing the spread of COVID-19, so the population will now be policed.