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It was indeed heartening to hear that the police have issued more than $4 million worth of tickets to persons who failed to wear face masks in public, despite the mandate contained in the Regulations issued by the Ministry of Health.

As of January 18, more than 4,000 persons were fined under the public health regulations.

This shows the seriousness with which the police are treating this matter. Citizens need to understand that it cannot be business as usual. Each of us has a responsibility to ourselves and our families to abide by the public health protocols issued by the Ministry of Health. Those regulations and protocols are there for a reason—to save lives.

Daily the death toll from COVID-19 is increasing, and with new strains of the virus, which are said to be more deadly, it is now more imperative than ever that the regulations and protocols are observed.

This is critical as the country is no clearer on when or how the vaccination drive will be rolled out. Citizens have been told 50,000 doses will be available in the first tranche which means only 25,000 citizens will be vaccinated since two doses are needed for the vaccine to be effective.

In the Caribbean at least two prime ministers, Mia Mottley of Barbados, and Roosevelt Skerritt of Dominica, have written to Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi asking for his help in getting the much-needed vaccines. Mottley is seeking access to 200,000 doses of the Oxford Zeneca vaccine, being produced in India. If India cannot supply the 200,000 doses requested, she said her government is willing to “purchase the other 100,000 doses should it meet your favourable consideration.”

Skerritt is asking for 70,000 first and second doses.

India is manufacturing Covishield and Covaxin and has already shipped consignments of the vaccine to a few friendly nations.

These two governments have a clear plan of what they want to achieve in protecting their citizens. They are displaying a clear understanding of the need to get as many of their citizens vaccinated with urgency.

The race to get vaccines is proving to be just that. The virus is mutating, and no one knows how many more severe new strains will emerge. One of the new COVID-19 variants has been described as deadlier than the original.

Common sense demands that all citizens do what is required to protect themselves. When the vaccine first gets to T&T it will be available to a select few while the majority will have to wait until later in the year.

What this means is that as citizens we need to do the right thing. Why is it so difficult to understand? Why are citizens continuing to take chances with their lives? This past weekend at the Residence, an upscale nightclub located at One Woodbrook Place, 100 people were detained and ticketed for not wearing masks. They will be charged by way of summons.

How much more stupid can you get! It does not matter to COVID-19 who you are, your station in life, who your parents are, where you come from. The virus knows no bounds. Citizens need to understand the life they save can be their own.

Even politicians who preach to us to stay safe and observe the protocols do not seem to understand. That is why crowds can attend public meetings when the official number of persons allowed to gather is ten. They are no smarter than the other kind of party hounds who feel it’s okay to fete and have a good time.

There are already 134 deaths from the virus in this country and the bigger picture, across the globe, shows that 2,146,455 people have died. Let that sink in. This is not a joke. 

Thankfully, the police are doing their part. More people should be ticketed and charged. It seems it is only when people feel the brunt of the law that they understand.