Dennis Joseph

Dennis Joseph

In Spain, nurses pelted blue latex gloves at the visiting Spanish PM’s car protesting for better protection from the disease after one nurse contracted it from an Ebola patient.

In Dominica, when a nurse suffers because of her work in the hospital dialysis section, the other nurses do not stand with her for to them, it is business as usual. Some of them even put their politics ahead of their welfare.

I wonder how they would react if perchance one of them should be hit by a terrible disease like Ebola while attending to a patient.

People in power do not move except by the power of the people and that is why so many projects and gift giving happen when an election day is close. If Ebola comes to our land it is the nurses who will be on the front line as they are right now. Have we ever wondered what will happen if they simply upped and left as Savarin made them do during the strike of 1979?

I am captured by the emails sent to me about this column and also about my Monday nights musical messages program on internet TDN Radio.

Here follows one from England: ‘Keep on writing Joe, keep on writing my dear fellow.’
I responded, ‘Keep on writing about what my dear fellow, about the flu?’ and then there was this reply:
‘What is this talk about Ebola in Dominica? The Prime Minister just want to show power banning the band. Everything for this man is a show of power. Look out he might use ebola to delay the elections’

Well anything can happen in Waitukubuli nowadays including a delay of elections but the PM may very well use October while renaming the airport to call the elections.

That, however, is a matter for politicians and political battles since we the people tend to just talk and do little more. Yet though the PM may love to grandstand but if we remove ‘grand’ from the word, we are left with ‘stand’, which is right in this case. Ebola is indeed a deadly virus and for the protection of we the people a stand has to be taken.

The problem for the PM is that any time in this volatile period he created and caused by announcing and hinting since March 2013 that there will be early elections, whenever he comes to the public, the expectations are that he will talk about the date for the next general elections. When he does not do that, the people feel shafted and really do not fully take in what he just said. Skerrit’s rushing tongue seems always to outrun his discretion. He appears to overshadow the Ebola announcement with another in the same breath- a political ploy to counter major public outcry about the lack of respect for his former political bosses- by renaming the only small airport after two former Labour Party Prime Ministers who died in office years ago but had nothing to do with the airport’s construction.

However, his position that the musical band from Africa booked for the WCM Festival should no longer be welcome makes sense and really is not a major decision struggle, it being so obvious. The thing is that while it’s easy to target the band it is possible that some person or persons who are already here for the festival or coming in soon could have been in West Africa recently or in contact with an Ebola victim and will not ever disclose this. This makes the PM’s response rather showman-like, not well thought out and without substance. To my mind in recent times the PM’s strategists have been a waste of time. There is the case of one death in a Dallas hospital where the victim was kept in isolation and yet it turns out that one of the nurses despite protective clothing caught the disease and now another nurse goes down there.

The news is reported that Trinidad is contemplating a cancellation or postponement of their beloved carnival celebrations because of the disease.

Clearly, we the people and even Labour Party leader Skerrit judging by his remarks in his press conference, are addicted to this WCM Festival born under the administration of the UWP. Nevertheless, it must be admitted that a festival in which thousands locals and visitors alike gather at nights to jump tightly together and party is an ideal place for the spreading of a disease such as Ebola. It only takes one infected person to start the rush and our medical services will not be able to deal with it. If we are not careful, Ebola could become the plague some pundits have been saying is overdue.

Plagues seem to us a Biblical thing. We are very familiar with the ten plagues in Egypt in the Book of Exodus, which was a demonstration of God’s power to humiliate and convince the Pharaoh that he should free the people of Israel enslaved for 400 years. The Egyptian plagues may have lasted a few months or years and were confined to Egypt but in today‘s world it does not matter where it starts as intercontinental travel has turned the world into a global village.

Lest we forget the lessons of history, if a virus runs out of control millions could be wiped out. My history readings tell me that The Black Death Plague which is counted the number one of all natural disasters, started in China when the Mongols ruled that part of the world in 1347 and spread through rats on ships and of course human contact claiming the lives of 60% of Europe.

The Modern Plague also originated in China in 1866 and over 20 years spread to seaports again through contaminated fleas on the backs of small stowaway rats and killed 10 million people. In those days, it took ships months to reach ports but in our time, it takes a plane just a few hours to the next airport. In other words, it will spread one hundred times faster. The Spanish Flu of 1918 killed more than 30 million in just its first six months

The resulting consequences of a rampant deadly silent killer could be that hospitals will be overrun, agriculture will stop working, people will stay home and stop working, police will stop working, government will fail as those loud mouthed representatives will be tested and found wanting and dying will be an hourly occurrence. There will be barricades around homes, residents will fear walking out of their homes, superstition will rule and even villages will be quarantined as fear and panic take hold of the living who may not even want to bury the dead throwing out corpses in the street.

Vicious and inhuman violence and the search for food will be rampant and uncontrollable. Locally LIAT would not only be late it would stop operations altogether regardless of the new name of the airport. These are just some of the effects and that destructive power has not escaped the attention of world scientists and warmongers who have developed in laboratories artificial plagues to unleash on cities and whole populations in something they choose to call controlled chemical warfare. For those who are quick to label me a prophet of doom and gloom well it has happened before and could happen again.

A scientist once told me that while many people think the end of the world will come through cataclysmic nuclear destruction, or by super volcanoes or the riders of the Apocalypse, he though believes it will come through a quiet killer –an uncontrollable virus whether natural or man-made. “This is a fluid and heterogeneous epidemic. It is changing quickly and it’s going to be a long fight,” Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said at a high-level meeting of major donors at the World Bank. Frieden compared Ebola to AIDS and said, “Speed is the most important variable here. This is controllable and this was preventable.” Perhaps it was preventable but to what extent is it controllable? Ebola is no ordinary flu and when this killer is around, it is the nurses and medical staff who are expected to fight the initial battles. Nature has many ways it uses its forces to kill helped along by the carelessness of earthlings with the environment.

The Health Ministry must now equip our nurses for this possible coming pestilence and make no mistake about it, this is also our fight as well as theirs so rather than play politics as usual and shielding our favourite politician, it is time to insist with one voice that our government gets moving and fast.