EDITORIAL: Get used to the curfew - it'll be with us for a while

THE confirmation of a new case of coronavirus seemingly unrelated to the previous patients is a reminder of the urgency to maintain our discipline in the lockdown presently in place across our nation.

The Grand Bahama patient announced yesterday seems to have no connection with any of the earlier cases, and her lack of strong symptoms demonstrates the difficulty in containing this virus.

That, plus the lack of discipline shown by many prior to the full 24-hour curfew being imposed, means it is increasingly likely that the curfew will be extended.

Talks are underway – and it may be extended for at least another 30 days, although a 14-day option may be on the table too.

We do not pretend that this will be easy for people. Being stuck at home for a prolonged period of time will be difficult, but the alternative is worse.

We hope that the creativity and determination of our nation will shine through to help people at this time – already we have seen DJs entertaining people from their homes, comedians using their talents to get the message across and more. We will need such talents as the curfew takes its toll on our patience and our spirits.

But if the measures in place are not observed, all that goes to waste. All that sacrifice is for nothing.

The medics are doing their part. Nearly 200 people have been tested so far – though officials acknowledge they need to do more, and that they want to do more. The first 300 of another 10,000 test kits have arrived with an extra 2,500 due soon. That will help to expand the range of testing so we can isolate this virus more effectively, even as we isolate ourselves.

There still need to be some improvements in communications, to make sure all officials are presenting the same message and that there is no confusion, particularly over what the curfew allows. Already, the Prime Minister had to reiterate the ability of media to travel to effectively report on the situation. Everything should be done to ensure there are no other conflicts in messages – people are unsure enough in these times.

There are few places to go for people with the curfew in place – with many flocking to stores yesterday to stock up.

Some teething troubles over ensuring access for senior citizens occurred yesterday, while other people who tried to jump the queues outside the store were swiftly told to join the line.

As the curfew goes on, some of those tempers in the lines outside will become frayed – but please remember, this is all for our own safety. With so few places to go and people shut up at home, places where people gather such as stores become the few spots where the virus can be transmitted through the community. So stay patient, stay apart from one another and only shop if you need to.

In all this, there is the knowledge that this is not a political game being played, this is being guided by the advice of medical experts, and with the benefit of seeing what measures have worked best elsewhere.

The sooner we stop any further transmission, the sooner this curfew will be able to come to an end. Break the curfew unnecessarily and you’re not just taking a risk with your own health, you’re risking the health and wealth of the nation.

We fear it will not be, but we pray this fifth case will be the last. Still, at the same time as that news came, there was a piece of good news too – the first patient to be diagnosed in the country has now recovered, and been discharged from hospital. A little light of hope for us all that we can all come through this.