Aggressively on top of COVID-19 Virus right from the beginning – but deep and destructive

Really? The chaos is felt and not unnoticeable

As of today, Montserrat would be congratulated for being COVID-19 ‘infected free’ having gone from a nonchalance and carefree approach. Many would say that the unnecessary they willfully or otherwise created a police state. It was and still is the result of the disgraceful and uncaring extreme, leading the charge of criminalising the safeguards, guidelines, and restrictions they copied and found necessary. It’s not tasting well to those who must suffer the unbelievable indifference.

We wrote many drafts written since April, all lamenting the poor extremes of a less than six-month-old Government that promised it would be different working only in the interest of the people of Montserrat (whoever those represent) have been able to deliver or not deliver. This due of course to what is considered a very poor beginning, continuing in the way they handled a pandemic that had been pointed out was likely due to happen.

Well placed professionals and concerned persons aided by TMR publicity had documented to Governor Pierce and Premier Farrell, suggesting and asking: whether St Patrick’s Week should be celebrated this year in the teeth of a deadly virus that may be on the verge of becoming a global pandemic.  Should our visitors introduce the virus to Montserrat both of you will have to face some very hard questions over any deaths that may ensue.”

That was not even met with an acknowledgement far less a response. In April we reported already that the Government may have missed the boat, having ignored completely the warnings and suggestions to cancel or postpone the large gatherings and visitors from areas where COVID-19 was already a great concern and people being infected.

Instead, we were to learn of comments and worse than Trump-like suggestions, “Oh this is just going to be like a (normal) flu…nothing to worry about…”, coming from top government officials including those who would have enormous powers and responsibilities in these matters.

Premier Easton Farrell with Dr. Dorothea Hazel-Blake during a virtual press conference responding a Nerissa Golden (inset) at bottom

Meantime, on March 5, 2020, we were told that “On Monday, March 2, the National Influenza Pandemic and Preparedness Committee

(NIPPPC) met to review the government’s action plan and risk mitigation for COVID-19, and to recap the evolving global and regional situation.”

Now could be that, that the Premier and his team at a press conference took issue with me when told that there was a lack of seriousness early as February about the seriousness of this potential pandemic. The Premier with verbal support and head-nodding said: “Montserrat did take it seriously. No one can accuse this administration of not acting aggressively….We were on top of this right from the beginning.”

Premier Farrell-made weekly statements and held virtual press conferences. two at the end of March, April, May; he was accompanied by his ministerss members and other health officials. The Governor seen (left) on two occasions, but Minister Kirnon (left) below ceased to attend, wants to have nothing to do with the media. Mrs. Hazel Blake now takes questions dealing directly with COVID. There will be more on the press conferences

The question must be, “when was that beginning? Indeed at that meeting, we were told in a release, “The islands Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and Quarantine Authority, Dr. Sharra Greenway-Duberry, and other senior Health Officials presented updated information on the spread of the COVID 19 and the Ministry of Health’s plans related to screening, isolation and quarantine.”

Great! But the timing and the urgent seriousness was lacking for reasons noted; because at that time as I learned later from participating in regional PAHO/WHO/CARPHA press briefings, Montserrat was part of their excellent and tremendous support.

I attended a regional MEDIA briefing by PAHO/WHO/CARPHA, I asked the question, how come with all the support they had just boasted to the region, that Montserrat ended up with the highest per capita number of cases as early as April, embarrassing the region and its mother country, with a threat of being taken over. The response was though true and not surprising, heard by the entire region, exposed a situation that has plagued us, certainly more so, the past 10 years.

What ensued after mid-March into May/June, the height of ignorance, and foolish and dishonest utterances; the poor way Montserrat has handled its finances, exposing the obvious lack of proper financial planning, exposing the worst kind of governance, management and lack of knowledge of really what is Montserrat, with ultimately the need now to cover it all up is setting us so far back, must be discussed. In time, or else.

A report following that briefing included this: “Leveraging PAHO’s long-standing working relationship with the Barbados Defense Force (BDF) and the Regional Security System (RSS), especially in response to public health emergencies, Barbados worked with both the BDF and RSS to facilitate the distribution of critical COVID-19 related supplies and equipment, procured by PAHO, and destined to its 10 countries and territories in the Caribbean: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.”

It can be seen right away one reason we might not have benefited as we ought to. No wonder there is no longer the ferry and why Premier Farrell is adamant that Prime Minister Gaston Browne should be the one to take the initiative to improve our transportation to Montserrat from the outside world? What a way to love Montserrat.

On 17 January, 2020 the Pan American Sanitary Bureau activated an organization-wide response to provide all 51 of its Member States and territories with technical cooperation to address and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. PAHO’s work to date falls under the following four key objectives from its regional response strategy delivering resources in different forms:

Ensure real-time information to countries and efficient coordination of national and regional response operations;

Limit human-to-human transmission, including reducing secondary infections among close contacts and healthcare workers, and preventing transmission amplification events;

Identify, isolate, and care for patients early, including providing optimized care for infected patients;

Communicate critical risk and event information to all communities, and counter misinformation.

We would learn that as far back as January 2020, PAHO/WHO/CARPHA had been already holding training sessions, logistics, communicating and distributing equipment, PPE and equipment (testing machines and masks) educational materials, posters, and pamphlets throughout the region. What did Montserrat to this day have to show they participated in anything from these organisations, except maybe some posters and pamphlets? They waited for the UK to deliver, then waited for training; and was it in May, June or even later when this equipment arrived, delivered to other OTs months earlier?

We had seen reports of some islands, such as Dominica included, had received testing machines since mid-late March, while Montserrat was busy importing the virus, misleading people about the non-existent screening they had touted in the March 5 release. I looked for it when at the seaport, asking questions discreetly, but only saw it quietly being done in Antigua. In fact, questions were being asked when it was not seen at the airport with the belief it was being done at the seaport.

Other OTs had already received the UK funding planned months ago while Montserrat was still thinking about asking at the end of March. In October members of the Legislative Assembly as well as the rest of Montserrat are still waiting for a clear explanation about the unprecedented deficit budget and how some people/businesses received in April were not able to benefit from the UK $8.5 million ring-fenced for COVID-19 related support.

What exactly was contained in the request that should have been sent since the end of March, but did not leave Montserrat until well after the £2.5 million was received?

The question about the difficulties the people (mostly disenfranchised through one means or the other and for reasons not unknown but will be dealt with at different times.

The moneys! That they should refuse some people/businesses who applied for the relief, they anticipated and supplied by the UKG, under some concocted ‘criteria’! Many seek answers as to some accounting to the people, but many listened to the deplorable time and again in the Legislative Assembly. Where is that accounting? Then there are the sufferings during the lockdown, arrests, and more.

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Really? The chaos is felt and not unnoticeable

As of today, Montserrat would be congratulated for being COVID-19 ‘infected free’ having gone from a nonchalance and carefree approach. Many would say that the unnecessary they willfully or otherwise created a police state. It was and still is the result of the disgraceful and uncaring extreme, leading the charge of criminalising the safeguards, guidelines, and restrictions they copied and found necessary. It’s not tasting well to those who must suffer the unbelievable indifference.

We wrote many drafts written since April, all lamenting the poor extremes of a less than six-month-old Government that promised it would be different working only in the interest of the people of Montserrat (whoever those represent) have been able to deliver or not deliver. This due of course to what is considered a very poor beginning, continuing in the way they handled a pandemic that had been pointed out was likely due to happen.

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Well placed professionals and concerned persons aided by TMR publicity had documented to Governor Pierce and Premier Farrell, suggesting and asking: whether St Patrick’s Week should be celebrated this year in the teeth of a deadly virus that may be on the verge of becoming a global pandemic.  Should our visitors introduce the virus to Montserrat both of you will have to face some very hard questions over any deaths that may ensue.”

That was not even met with an acknowledgement far less a response. In April we reported already that the Government may have missed the boat, having ignored completely the warnings and suggestions to cancel or postpone the large gatherings and visitors from areas where COVID-19 was already a great concern and people being infected.

Instead, we were to learn of comments and worse than Trump-like suggestions, “Oh this is just going to be like a (normal) flu…nothing to worry about…”, coming from top government officials including those who would have enormous powers and responsibilities in these matters.

Premier Easton Farrell with Dr. Dorothea Hazel-Blake during a virtual press conference responding a Nerissa Golden (inset) at bottom

Meantime, on March 5, 2020, we were told that “On Monday, March 2, the National Influenza Pandemic and Preparedness Committee

(NIPPPC) met to review the government’s action plan and risk mitigation for COVID-19, and to recap the evolving global and regional situation.”

Now could be that, that the Premier and his team at a press conference took issue with me when told that there was a lack of seriousness early as February about the seriousness of this potential pandemic. The Premier with verbal support and head-nodding said: “Montserrat did take it seriously. No one can accuse this administration of not acting aggressively….We were on top of this right from the beginning.”

Premier Farrell-made weekly statements and held virtual press conferences. two at the end of March, April, May; he was accompanied by his ministerss members and other health officials. The Governor seen (left) on two occasions, but Minister Kirnon (left) below ceased to attend, wants to have nothing to do with the media. Mrs. Hazel Blake now takes questions dealing directly with COVID. There will be more on the press conferences

The question must be, “when was that beginning? Indeed at that meeting, we were told in a release, “The islands Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and Quarantine Authority, Dr. Sharra Greenway-Duberry, and other senior Health Officials presented updated information on the spread of the COVID 19 and the Ministry of Health’s plans related to screening, isolation and quarantine.”

Great! But the timing and the urgent seriousness was lacking for reasons noted; because at that time as I learned later from participating in regional PAHO/WHO/CARPHA press briefings, Montserrat was part of their excellent and tremendous support.

I attended a regional MEDIA briefing by PAHO/WHO/CARPHA, I asked the question, how come with all the support they had just boasted to the region, that Montserrat ended up with the highest per capita number of cases as early as April, embarrassing the region and its mother country, with a threat of being taken over. The response was though true and not surprising, heard by the entire region, exposed a situation that has plagued us, certainly more so, the past 10 years.

What ensued after mid-March into May/June, the height of ignorance, and foolish and dishonest utterances; the poor way Montserrat has handled its finances, exposing the obvious lack of proper financial planning, exposing the worst kind of governance, management and lack of knowledge of really what is Montserrat, with ultimately the need now to cover it all up is setting us so far back, must be discussed. In time, or else.

A report following that briefing included this: “Leveraging PAHO’s long-standing working relationship with the Barbados Defense Force (BDF) and the Regional Security System (RSS), especially in response to public health emergencies, Barbados worked with both the BDF and RSS to facilitate the distribution of critical COVID-19 related supplies and equipment, procured by PAHO, and destined to its 10 countries and territories in the Caribbean: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.”

It can be seen right away one reason we might not have benefited as we ought to. No wonder there is no longer the ferry and why Premier Farrell is adamant that Prime Minister Gaston Browne should be the one to take the initiative to improve our transportation to Montserrat from the outside world? What a way to love Montserrat.

On 17 January, 2020 the Pan American Sanitary Bureau activated an organization-wide response to provide all 51 of its Member States and territories with technical cooperation to address and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. PAHO’s work to date falls under the following four key objectives from its regional response strategy delivering resources in different forms:

Ensure real-time information to countries and efficient coordination of national and regional response operations;

Limit human-to-human transmission, including reducing secondary infections among close contacts and healthcare workers, and preventing transmission amplification events;

Identify, isolate, and care for patients early, including providing optimized care for infected patients;

Communicate critical risk and event information to all communities, and counter misinformation.

We would learn that as far back as January 2020, PAHO/WHO/CARPHA had been already holding training sessions, logistics, communicating and distributing equipment, PPE and equipment (testing machines and masks) educational materials, posters, and pamphlets throughout the region. What did Montserrat to this day have to show they participated in anything from these organisations, except maybe some posters and pamphlets? They waited for the UK to deliver, then waited for training; and was it in May, June or even later when this equipment arrived, delivered to other OTs months earlier?

We had seen reports of some islands, such as Dominica included, had received testing machines since mid-late March, while Montserrat was busy importing the virus, misleading people about the non-existent screening they had touted in the March 5 release. I looked for it when at the seaport, asking questions discreetly, but only saw it quietly being done in Antigua. In fact, questions were being asked when it was not seen at the airport with the belief it was being done at the seaport.

Other OTs had already received the UK funding planned months ago while Montserrat was still thinking about asking at the end of March. In October members of the Legislative Assembly as well as the rest of Montserrat are still waiting for a clear explanation about the unprecedented deficit budget and how some people/businesses received in April were not able to benefit from the UK $8.5 million ring-fenced for COVID-19 related support.

What exactly was contained in the request that should have been sent since the end of March, but did not leave Montserrat until well after the £2.5 million was received?

The question about the difficulties the people (mostly disenfranchised through one means or the other and for reasons not unknown but will be dealt with at different times.

The moneys! That they should refuse some people/businesses who applied for the relief, they anticipated and supplied by the UKG, under some concocted ‘criteria’! Many seek answers as to some accounting to the people, but many listened to the deplorable time and again in the Legislative Assembly. Where is that accounting? Then there are the sufferings during the lockdown, arrests, and more.