The novel coronavirus (Covid-19) has created a lot of hysteria and fear in the world in general, and in the Caribbean region in particular. So far there have been over 127, 000 cases with over 4,700 deaths worldwide.
The Caribbean had a clean slate with regard to known cases for a long time since the virus outbreak in Wuhan, China, three months ago. Now, suddenly, we are hearing of a few cases in the Caribbean. Trinidad and Cayman Islands had their first cases last week.
Then there was the incident of the Vincentian woman who had the virus and had passed through the Grantley Adams International Airport. She travelled from the UK to Barbados, then to St. Vincent via a LIAT flight.
The report caused some consternation among Barbadians, who thought that the woman could have infected someone in Barbados. This prompted the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Minister of Health Luke Brown to respond: “It is very unlikely that this individual was contagious on route to St. Vincent. In fact, the symptoms only developed on March 10, which was long after.” (Weekend Nation, March 13, 2020).
Further, a medical doctor in the Ministry of Health and Wellness here “suggested that though the incubation period for Covid-19 was 14 days ‘she would have been asymptomatic – that is, no fever, coughing or sneezing’ on the flight. Therefore, it was unlikely she would have infected anyone at that time.”
There is so much fear in the world today because of this virus. And the local health officials are doing all they can to allay the fears of us all. Information about Covid-19 and the best practices for individual hygiene have been disseminated widely on local television and in the print media.
But human nature being what it is, the more information we get, the more panic and fear it causes among some individuals! And fear causes people to think, say, and do some very irrational things.
So, some Barbadians are buying up more than enough hand sanitizers, disinfectants, bleach and masks than is needed for their individual household. But it gets worse. Some are also stocking up on food supplies, as we do when there is a hurricane approaching our shores. Seriously!
The argument goes – and they cannot be convinced otherwise – that if they were to be infected with the virus, and are quarantined in their homes, they would not be able to go anywhere and get food and basic supplies! This is what fear of a pandemic does to people – even though there has not been a single Covid-19 case in Barbados.
But the rumors have been rife. One rumor said that Barbadian authorities have been secretly quarantining several people in a facility in St. Lucy.
Secretly? In Barbados? It is time that good old common sense prevails in Barbados.
True, we should wisely do all we can in order to keep ourselves safe and reduce the possibility of infection. Some banks, supermarkets, and other establishments have given their staff gloves to use in their daily tasks. And some individuals have taken it on themselves to do the same – with a few even wearing masks.
But let us add a scriptural dynamic to all these actions and look to God for our safety. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear…” (Psalm 46:1,2 KJV). Also, Psalm 91:3 assures us, “For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.” (NLT).
Lastly, let us take comfort in these words: “Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday.” (Psalm 91:6 NLT).