Jamaica’s Governor General Sir Patrick Allen has called for his compatriots to throw support behind the Government’s efforts to combat the global pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 worldwide and brought economies to their knees.
Sir Patrick, in an appeal to Jamaicans last week during an exclusive interview with The Gleaner, said that despite a storied history of setbacks, it is not in the DNA of Jamaicans to stay down.
He said the island had had its share of disasters over several centuries in the form of earthquakes and hurricanes, taking lives and destroying the country’s infrastructure.
COVID-19, he said, is hitting the country’s economic and social signposts.
“With COVID-19, it’s not a physical devastation of infrastructure. We are now going to be putting back lives together in virtual spaces. COVID-19 is local. It’s global, and it’s rapid, because it swept from the eastern part of the globe and went straight across Europe to America,” Sir Patrick said.
Referring to the cholera outbreak in the 1800s that killed 30,000 people and the 1918 Spanish flu, which took another 10,000 lives, he said Jamaicans have never countenanced failure, even when things were bad.
The number of Jamaicans infected with the virus is inching closer to 500, but with nine deaths.
“Our experiences as a people from the hardships of slavery is what has given us that attitude of fight. We have experienced so many difficulties – poverty, privations, and economic challenges. We are not a passive people. I can only conclude that there is something in our DNA which tells us not to settle unless it’s the best,” said the country’s head of state.
Sir Patrick called for Jamaicans to support the Government’s measures, reaffirming that he was “confident we are going to survive it”.
Part of the head-on fight of the Government has been an islandwide curfew and quarantines imposed in six communities and one parish where increased coronavirus numbers triggered lockdowns. Other rules have been imposed, such as social-distancing obligations.
But the governor general said that Jamaicans have a history of hardships but also a history of triumphs.
He cited epochal disasters such as the 1907 Port Royal earthquake and hurricanes Charlie, Gilbert, and Ivan in 1951, 1988, and 2004, respectively.
“We could prepare for the hurricanes and plan how to rebuild. With COVID, we can’t. But it will not keep us down,” he said.
Sir Patrick also extended thanks to front-line workers across all professions who were leading the fight against the pandemic.