by Dr David Bratt
Well, it’s that time of the year again when I do my annual (and I think I just made that up) mid-year review of the papers by selecting one paper by chance, usually the Guardian, going through it (takes a couple minutes) and noting the often tragic but hilarious news items.
Trinidad is a sick society. Tobago too but not as sick and they seem to have a couple of young people looking to make some therapeutic decisions. But Trinidad is a mess, physically, psychologically and emotionally.
The physical infrastructure is falling apart. Check the roads. The water and sewage systems. The electricity system. The buildings. The hospitals. The health centres. The schools. Government buildings, with a few exceptions. Parks and savannahs. Maracas stinks.
Psychologically, the mood is anxiety. Everybody is anxious. Tempers are frayed. Don’t dare to look another driver in the face, you bound to get cuss. Psychiatric clinics are overwhelmed. It’s almost impossible to get a child evaluated anymore for a school problem. School children need police presence, apparently, to stay quiet. The Minister of Education responds to student misbehaviour by claiming she will follow the letter of the law. Newspapers trumpet “children criminals” but the sexual abuse of minors, past and present, continues unabated. Ministers refuse to answer simple questions. Leadership, whether of Government or Opposition, is non-existent and the unions seem to be looking for trouble.
The emotion is anger. The entire country is angry and much is due to the two-year lockdown. And if we hadn’t had enough of lockdowns, now comes the astounding statement by the Minister that monkeypox has been added to the list of dangerous diseases and there is a new Order by the Quarantine Authority to allow special measures to be taken in light of the emergency of the spread of the Monkeypox Virus (which does not exist in T&T), and special measures are in place to impose a quarantine on citizens, “if monkeypox is detected.”
The Minister of Health goes on to say people should be cautious when engaging with family and friends who recently returned from a country where the virus is present.
“Cautious in engaging.” What does that mean? So far, 99 per cent of the monkeypox cases in the world have been found in gay, white men. Yet we are advised to be “cautious” with our friends and family returning to T&T? And what does “engaging” mean, Minister? And if there is one case of monkeypox in Jamaica, does that mean we should stay away from interacting with anyone who has returned from there?
This is fearmongering. Can we have specific and sensible advice instead of these wishy-washy statements, the worst of which was the advice to assume that the person next to you has monkeypox! As if sitting down in a maxi next to someone with monkeypox will give you monkeypox! It is clear that, at present, to get monkeypox, one needs prolonged and intimate skin to skin contact, as in sexual positioning. The Minister then fireballed the situation by calling on people to look for signs and symptoms of a disease that is not in T&T, and I suppose, report them to the police so that they can be locked up.
This is madness. No wonder the country is angry. People are confused by these aimless ministerial statements. Confused people are an angry people.
Let’s return to the papers.
Ariapita Avenue used to be such a lovely place to go to. A place where you could walk on the pavement or sit in Adam Smith Square, grab a bite or a drink, chat with friends. Now there are plans to turn it into a new “Gaza Strip.” Well, that phrase gives away the age of the residents who are complaining about those plans. I learned about the notorious Gaza Strip on Wrightson Road, in front of where Dretchi presently is, from Ernie, George, Carl and Stanley, most of whom are now dead. Suffice to say that Sparrow probably composed Jean & Dinah in the backroom of one of the “nightclubs” there. And if it’s converted to year-round Carnival-like activities, as one wag said, “It will be a great area to blame for COVID and monkeypox infections.”
Well, there are a couple of good things happening. Despite having one of the worst healthcare systems in the world, North Korea claims that anyone who contracted COVID there has recovered. We should obviously be talking about bringing Kim Jong-Uu here to give us advice about COVID and monkeypox.
And a local animal activist, the brave Marissa Ramnath, is seeking to block QPS fireworks on Independence Day, while something called Caesar’s Army is planning to celebrate Independence with something called a “patriotic fete.”