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Weak tea when black coffee should be mandated

And while David Burt and Kim Wilson self-righteously scolded, Bermuda burnt. Does anyone really believe that a curfew from 12.30am to 5am that can only be described as weak tea at best rises to the occasion of the crisis at hand?

Rolfe Commissiong was the Progressive Labour Party MP for Pembroke South East (Constituency 21) between December 2012 and August 2020, and the former chairman of the joint select committee considering the establishment of a living wage

With the Delta variant rampant and deaths rising, and with contagion spreading just short of exponentially, Bermuda has achieved another dubious distinction to the one that has us as the world’s No 1 tax haven (on steroids).

We now know Bermuda continues to lead the world in terms of coronavirus cases per head, according to the tracking site Worldometer.com, as The Royal Gazette reported only a few days ago, and additionally that we were third behind Grenada when it comes to average daily deaths per 100,000.

Grenada’s vaccination rate, one might ask — an underwhelming 17 per cent.

Yet, in response, we get a curfew that should have been put in place at least a month ago — and one that should start at 9pm as opposed to 12.30am. Surely, at this point and consistent with reality, we should have also seen the Government impose border control at our ports of entry more than a week ago, to be followed with a short, sharp island-wide ten-day lockdown, beginning the first week of October.

And while many are pointing and, yes, scolding public transportation staff, including the minister, for their work stoppage, note that 38 employees of that public service have tested positive for the virus over the preceding period. They are frontline workers, too, and they have literally put their lives at risk on a daily basis and that of their families for relatively little pay. Let us not forget that.

I am not a scientist or a doctor of dermatology like the shape shifter who likely made thousands of dollars along with a few of his colleagues by peddling a dewormer drug, which its producer has consistently said should generally not be prescribed for humans and certainly not in the battle against Covid. There are no studies that even remotely have said that the drug in question is safe or efficacious in combating Covid. Granted, it is prescribed in very small amounts in addressing certain parasitical infections in humans. However, with the “have my cake and eat it too” ethos so prevalent here, he can now pose as a champion of vaccines as the tide turns both here and in the United States against those who would hold a whole country hostage to their rank conspiracy theories.

So much for the Hippocratic oath. But my intuition tells me that we are only in the middle of this surge, unfortunately, at a time when the weather is also noticeably cooling.

I might add that the pharmaceutical company called Merck, which produces that dewormer drug and which once actually packaged drug products here at what was once the Dockyard Freeport decades ago, is one of the largest in the world — rivalling Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson for sales and market share. In other words, they are Big Pharma, too.

You see, the initial variant in 2020 that had us frightened to all hell — and justifiably so — in retrospect was only an opening act. The variants that have followed, such as Beta and Delta, have gotten progressively worse. Our premier certainly basked in the glow from being celebrated by Front Street, and the Gazette — until of late — owing to his presumed handling of the first wave of the virus. He and his government deserve some credit for ensuring, for example, that there were ample supplies of the vaccines available and setting up the necessary infrastructure to facilitate testing, contact tracing and vaccinations from scratch.

Despite an early stumble, that was no mean feat. But that in retrospect was the easy part. But we are in the main act now. It has arrived and the glow has worn off somewhat from the halo that many affixed to him when it came to managing this pandemic and its myriad impacts on Bermuda.

A neighbour whose family hails from Uzbekistan ruefully asked me last weekend: “Where is Burt?”

Soon, we may get to the point that only the prospect of Cole Simons as an alternative would make him even remotely plausible as a leader.

I ask you, is our government’s fiscal situation and our economy that bad that their embrace of cynically driven pragmatism has now turned into cynical venality? Surely we have not gotten to the point that it’s truly every man and woman for him or herself in a fashion that would make Darwin blush. Or is it that they now have to prove to their new-found friends — the bankers, and gods of commerce and various other elites — that they are tough enough to keep the natives in line and the economy open at any cost. Does the conservative Wall Street banker (not a compliment) otherwise known as our finance minister agree with this approach?

Look, I get it. Hamilton now looks like St George’s West — a ghost town. Our economy has seen five and will soon see six consecutive quarters of economic decline and has been battered for more than 18 months since the arrival of the pandemic to these shores. But this cynical gamble is a bridge too far and one that Bermuda does not deserve.

Everyone in my household is vaccinated including myself and has been for roughly nine months. I have no particular animus towards those who are not vaccinated but I tend on this matter to believe that when it comes to a pandemic such as this that the health and safety of the many must take precedence over a minority who hold to an often misguided notion of personal freedom, which often sounds like it came right out of some right-wing, libertarian comic book.

But by the same token the failure of the Government to build confidence and trust among its people makes increasingly necessary and likely the need to mandate vaccinations under the heading of protecting the common good. Of deepening concern to me is that I also have members of my extended family who still refuse to get vaccinated and I pray that they, too, will not have to hear the following words uttered to them at the hospital when they ask for the vaccine and are told that it’s simply too late.

Ps. I would encourage readers to read these two Guardian articles below on the rise of ivermectin and its global spread and use based largely on egregious amounts of misinformation spread by social-media networks.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/sep/24/ivermectin-covid-peru-misinformation

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/sep/25/fraudulent-ivermectin-studies-open-up-new-battleground-between-science-and-misinformation

Rolfe Commissiong was the Progressive Labour Party MP for Pembroke South East (Constituency 21) between December 2012 and August 2020, and the former chairman of the joint select committee considering the establishment of a living wage

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Published September 27, 2021 at 8:01 am (Updated September 26, 2021 at 2:27 pm)

Weak tea when black coffee should be mandated

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