By Devonne Cornelius
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN) — Two young people- one from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the other from Jamaica- shared their experience of coping with the impact of COVID-19 in their countries.
Mr. Marc Hillocks of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) and Ms. Jeheime Llewelyn of Jamaica were guests on WINN’s weekend special “Inside The News”.
Mr. Hillock, a school teacher, recounts that while a number of educational institutions in St. Vincent and the Grenadines were unable to transition to online teaching and learning, his school did not have that issue.
He recalled that his colleagues were forced to assign school work through platforms like WhatsApp, Zoom, and Google Meets.
“So in St. Vincent and the Grenadines when COVID struck, which would have been the third week of March, the first measure was really to lock down schools, and I am a teacher so that brought a drastic change to my daily operations. Luckily for my school, we have a management information system in place so it made the transition to remote teaching a little easier than the rest of schools,” he said.
Mr. Hillocks said St. Vincent and the Grenadines managed the Coronavirus well by putting in place the necessary protocols to safeguard citizens and residents against the deadly virus.
He said now that life is getting back to normal some people are lowering their guard.
“While it is good to see people living as normal, I think we need to remember that this pandemic is not over, in fact, we see the US breaking its own record on a daily basis and because our borders are not locked down, we still have flights from that country coming in every so often, and we really depend on the persons coming in to be very responsible…”.
SVG had recorded 87 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 80 recoveries and no death.
The situation in Jamaica is a bit different. The COVID-19 cases continue to fluctuate rapidly amidst the many stringent protocols implemented by the government.
Ms. Jehieme Llewelyn of Jamaica believes it has to be an all of society approach to curbing the spread of the virus in her country.
“As the numbers continue to grow, the government is in fact trying its best to keep the virus under control, but it’s up to us, the people, to actually get it to work. And the real problem I think is arrogance as opposed to ignorance because it’s not like the information isn’t available for people to know what is going on.”
Jamaica, like other Caribbean nations, suffered terribly from the harsh impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism sector.
“The almost complete shutdown of the tourism sector for a couple of months really gave the country a hit… I think it’s a lesson we have to learn from this. We can’t piggyback off one industry because tourism was our number two-income earner and with the industry taking such a hit, you would realize there wasn’t much coming in for the country.”
The Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) is reporting a 10.8 percent reduction in the number of employed persons as of July 2020, relative to the corresponding period last year. This decline in employment has been largely attributed by labor analysts on the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on economic activity in Jamaica, which recorded its first confirmed case on March 10.
“With the pandemic going on…not many business places are taking people on so unemployment has spiked. There are more people getting laid off, persons are now working a lot less than they used to, persons are finding it harder to even get employment.” Ms. Llewelyn said.
Jamaica has recorded 11,063 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 6866 recoveries and 261 deaths.