Minister of Health Chris Tufton has had a rough week. Soldiers turned away hundreds of people flocking to vaccination sites islandwide to get their second dose. In some places only people under 50 were refused a second dose, but at others the huge queues in advance of the site opening meant that the site was closed without a single vaccine being administered. Vaccines are apparently on the way but right now there are clearly not enough for those who want them.
At the same time nurses were complaining that they haven’t received their hazard pay for the vaccination blitz and more than a hundred doctors are concerned that their contracts have not been extended or they are only being offered six month contracts. The Minister seems to be suffering from cognitive dissonance as he was appearing on all the talk shows to urge that the doctors and nurses be paid and their contracts sorted out immediately. If the Minister is not responsible for solving the problem, who is?
Tufton is riding a sea of goodwill as his valiant efforts to combat the pandemic have met with some success over past fifteen months, however people’s memories are short and some of the problems at the Health Ministry are recurring decimals: there is never enough money available for timely payments to health workers and the Cornwall Regional Hospital renovations were slated for completion by the end of 2020 (and all now nothing 😔).
While Tufton struggled, the Prime Minister basked in the approval of most Jamaicans as he relaxed the curfew restrictions as of July 1, 2021. The nightly curfew moves to 11pm to 5am Monday to Saturday, 6pm to 5am on Sunday, and most importantly the entertainment sector will be allowed to reopen subject to receipt of the proper permits. According to many on social media people in their area are behaving as if the 11pm curfew is already in force and, of course, the partying never stopped for some. No sooner had the Prime Minister announced the relaxation of lockdown restrictions, than many critics pointed out that the Delta variant (which has apparently not reached Jamaica yet) is causing infection rates to rise rapidly in many countries around the world (US, UK, Israel, South Africa), the so-called third wave. Dog nyam we supper.
The Opposition continued to try to capitalise on the George Wright matter, continuing to press for him to be seated with the Government rather than among Opposition members. Karen Cross did not turn up to her disciplinary hearing. Dr Morais Guy berated the Minister of Health for his treatment of healthcare workers and Mark Golding made forays around the island attacking the Government on a variety of issues. Peter Bunting suggested that the easing of restrictions means the local government elections are near. He is no doubt mindful of the PM’s protestations last June that he had no intention of calling an election, only to call it 2 months later.
However, the general pandemic attitude of the populace still seems to be that if you’re not the Prime Minister, the Minister of Health or the CMO, (Chief Medical Officer Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie) them don wan hear nutten from you.