I did not know what to make of last night’s [1 April 2020] announcement. We continue to treat this COVID-19 as a political exercise. However, it seems to have finally dawned on someone that their political games will have fatal consequences.
Last night, the Government finally admitted what was obvious to everyone. They stated: “We therefore need to formulate a plan of survival for Barbados!”
We ought to remember that the Government noted that they made a plan with all political parties, unions and the merchants. However, they specifically excluded Solutions Barbados and the UPP – for purely political reasons.
After developing an ineffective political plan with their supporters, we tried to provide them with our best advice. They either rejected or ignored our advice, so we advised the public on how they could prepare for COVID-19.
We advised the Government to effectively close Barbados to normal business, and our borders to visitors. We recommended that this be done on Wednesday 25 March 2020, when the trend of exponential growth was evident. We now know that our COVID-19 cases were growing exponentially at an out-of-control rate of 3 days at that time.
The Government rejected our advice, and allowed out-of-control exponential growth for a further 4 days. But their political efforts were ineffective, since the shut-down was partial and our borders remained open. Persons entering were not tested for the virus, instead, they were given an ineffective temperature reading.
The Government continued to reject or ignore our advice, and allowed the COVID-19 cases to grow at the same exponential rate for a further 4 days, before finally appearing to be serious last night. Now that they are looking for a plan, we suggest the following.
SUGGESTIONS FOR AN EFFECTIVE SURVIVAL PLAN
First, stop the inflow of cases by closing our borders to people. The Government’s problem is that this goes against the WHO recommendation. Many critical WHO recommendations on COVID-19 have been proven wrong. We should not be guinea pigs as the WHO is learning on-the-job. Therefore, look out for the health interests of Barbadians and close our borders now.
Second, shut down Barbados for two weeks. Everyone except those working in thread-bare essential services should stay home for 2 weeks. This is what was finally announced today (9 days late).
Third, effectively enforce the shut-down. This has yet to be done. Even our youth know that it is a joke, or a game like ‘tag’.
Four, order the Abbott tester (see link below), which can give test results in 5 minutes, and start meaningful testing. Normally, this would not have been a problem – we could simply have asked the US Ambassador for a few machines. However, we have muddied the waters.
We have publicly tried to embarrass US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, when he visited the Caribbean. CBC-TV also tries to find the most embarrassing stories about US President Trump (including from the anti-US Islamic station, Al Jazeera), which they air, every night, during the 7:00 pm news.
These reckless actions risk harming us all, when we need to call on our proven friends for assistance. They also make requesting assistance embarrassing, given our past behaviour. However, we should swallow our pride and do what is necessary for Barbados.
After the two-week shut down, when the internal transmission rates are known and are under control, we can re-open our borders. Then we can test every visitor to Barbados – before they leave the arrivals hall.
Five, start including the many highly qualified Barbadians who are willing to help, rather than just the BLP faithful. There are so many examples I could cite, but I will include one.
Harrison Point’s buildings were built over 60 years ago. It is very easy to mistakenly use current construction materials, that can react badly with old construction. Renovating such buildings requires specialist engineering advice to avoid foreseen high maintenance issues.
We made a $30M error by demolishing the 6-storey NIS building (which we could have used now), apparently because someone did not understand construction methods in the 1970s. To prevent a similar blunder, I offered an unlimited supply of free specialist engineering advice.
A truly national plan would accept such an offer – but they rejected it. If they continue to only listen to their most partisan political supporters, then the only plan that they can develop is another political plan.
Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com