During the COVID-19 press briefings, the Government refused to divulge any information on where positive cases had contracted the virus. We were not allowed to know the village, district or parish. We were not allowed to know whether they visited a business, or the type of business.
The reason for this secrecy, was to avoid any type of stigma and discrimination. We were to accept that: Barbados was one country, we were all in this together, and there was no room for division during this COVID-19 crisis.
Last Sunday (17 May 2020), the Government decided to throw one organisation to the wolves of social media. The Government claimed that three members of a small Church, in Bridgetown, with a membership of about 30, had tested positive. Well, that excluded the large Anglican, Methodist and Moravian churches in Bridgetown.
As if that were not enough, the Government threw fuel on the fire by publicly speculating that they were not sure, but that they were trying to find out whether members of that church were meeting during the lockdown.
To put the final nail in the coffin, the Government directed that this church was ordered closed until further notice.
On Tuesday 19 May 2020, the Government revealed that they had tested 27 members of the 28-member church, and four persons were positive. Our Acting Chief Medical Officer admitted that there was no evidence to support the allegation, that members of the church had met during the lock-down.
Why allow this irresponsible public speculation? Why did the Government make the reckless public allegation in the first place, that we now know was dangerous fake news?
Has the Government changed the way it reports on positive cases? Is this new protocol to be retroactive? Are we to expect the Government to now publicise the type, size and location of establishments that the other positive cases were in contact, or is this new exposure to only target churches?
The Other Shoe.
Just when we thought that things could not get any worse, they dropped the other shoe. The Government exposed the actual name of the next positive case. What would possess them to do that? What about the stigma that they were so insistent of avoiding?
Why also reveal that the lady tested positive for COVID-19, but was allowed to delay the mandatory isolation that the rest of us must endure, to see her ailing mother?
What about those Government skits, where people were pleading to see their elderly parents, but were denied for the greater good of all Barbadians? They must have known that everyone would see the blatant double standard.
Why throw the lady under the bus, to be ravaged by the wolves of social media? Does the Government think that their new strategy of exposing individuals, will encourage people who think that they may have the virus, from coming forward? Do they think that this new strategy will encourage persons to cooperate with those doing contact tracing?
To be charitable, it seems that the current set of persons managing this crisis are now exhausted. They are consistently making lunatic level mistakes, that cannot be rationally explained.
Further, their mistakes have consequences that can harm us all. Their recent actions are foreseen to force positive cases both underground, and from cooperating with those doing contact tracing.
Solutions Barbados suggests that the current managers be given a two-week vacation, to rest. They can then resume their duties recharged, for the benefit of us all.
Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com