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PNP Blames Holness For COVID Spike Risk


Source: Jamaica Gleaner

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Despite Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips’ full-throated acceptance of the September 3 general election, People’s National Party (PNP) officials have blamed Prime Minister Andrew Holness for putting the lives of Jamaicans at risk.

The island saw its largest number of COVID-19 cases on Thursday with 98 infections.

Jamaica has, overall, recorded 1,290 cases and 15 deaths up to August 20.

This prompted the Government to implement longer curfews for four parishes.

Chief Medical Officer Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie has theorised that the rash of cases are linked to events during the Independence holiday.

Shadow Minister of Health Dr Morais Guy blasted the Holness administration for calling the election despite indicators that cases were increasing.

“He knew what was happening out there. He is the one who heads that subcommittee of the Cabinet on the COVID response, so he would totally be aware of what was happening on the ground,” said Guy, a medical doctor, during a PNP virtual press conference on Friday.

Phillips, who is also PNP president, told The Gleaner moments after Holness’ August 11 announcement that his party’s agenda was set and that he and his troops were ready to hit the ground to upset the JLP at the polls.

“We are ready! We are going to win. We are going on the road, and we are going to win,” the 70-year-old veteran, reacting to the election date announcement, said.

But PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson said that any objection would have been interpreted as fear of contesting an election. He blasted the Government for choosing its own interest over the health and well-being of Jamaicans.

“The prime minister would have to accept the responsibility, knowing the culture that exists within the political environment and knowing that it would be very difficult to contain the enthusiasm that surrounds election campaigns, which would contribute to a spike in COVID numbers,” he said.

Both major political parties have struggled to get their supporters to adhere to social-distancing rules and the wearing of masks. This became even more obvious on nomination day when caution was thrown to the wind as party faithful celebrated with the candidates.

Robinson said that the prime minister had six more months to host the general election but gambled with the apex of the virus.

St Ann North Western Member of Parliament Dr Dayton Campbell has blamed the increase in COVID-19 cases on the poor management decisions made by the current Government. He also accused the Government of “prioritising tourists over locals” when they decided to open up the island to visitors from high-risk countries.

“This spike is also taking place, with a general election campaign ongoing and we have ballooning numbers of cases that are under investigation, which tells us that we are probably in the phase of community spread,” said Campbell, a medical doctor and former spokesman on health.

Chief Medical Officer Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie has said that the country is experiencing COVID clustering, not community spread.

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