PM calls for temporary halt in political ‘warfare’ amidst COVID upsurge

Prime Minister Gaston Browne has called on his political opponents to observe a ‘ceasefire’ and to join his government in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“I am going to commit myself from today that I will aspire to have nothing negative to say about my political opponents.  I am asking Opposition Leader Harold Lovell and his entire team to join us in a political ceasefire.  It is critical at this time.  The focus should be about getting our people vaccinated to protect lives and our livelihoods.  I am making an earnest call for a political ceasefire between the opposition forces and government for us to understand that the priority at this time is to protect lives and livelihoods by getting our people inoculated in order to achieve herd immunity,” PM Browne told his radio and social media audience during his weekly appearance on a radio programme on 99.1 PointeFM.

The country’s leader was at the time responding to a caller who commented on the government’s position that there will be no lock-down of the country to fight the rise in COVID-19 cases.

PM Browne said that unless the COVID-19 situation gets to a point whereby the health system becomes overwhelmed, the country would not go into a lock down.  He said that what is needed is for persons to come together and observe the protocols and encourage each other to get inoculated.  The recent figures indicate that there are three hundred and seventy active COVID-19 cases in Antigua and Barbuda with forty persons hospitalized.

“There is no other way out and all of us is as vulnerable as each of us.  We must understand that there are consequences that go beyond our individual decisions and we have to make decisions in the interest of ourselves and our loved ones and the entire nation as a whole,” PM Browne stated.

On 16th February, political leader of the United Progressive Party, Harold Lovell, mounted a social media campaign outlining his support for COVID-19 vaccination, stating that he will take the vaccine. 

I will take the AstraZeneca vaccine or whichever vaccine is recommended by our medical and public health professionals.  It is absolutely important to get vaccinated. It will protect my life, the lives of my family and friends and most of all the lives of the people of my wonderful country,” Harold Lovell posted on his Facebook page.

The government last Wednesday commenced its vaccination programme, inoculating front line workers to include nurses, doctors, EMT officers, Members of Cabinet and Parliament and other healthcare workers.  It will continue the vaccination drive in the coming weeks, also taking the vaccination programme to the sister island of Barbuda.

“I make this sincere call for a political ceasefire at this time, recognizing that the country needs us all.  Each of us must take responsibility to fight this existential threat in our country.  All of us must participate in the public education campaign and to convince everyone around us to continue to adhere to the health protocols in order to contain the spread of COVID-19 and to get vaccinated in order to achieve the much needed herd immunity so that we can return to normalcy as soon as possible,” PM Browne stated. 

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