Wed | Feb 19, 2020

Letter of the Day | Consumer and the coronavirus: the implications for Jamaica

Published:Thursday | February 13, 2020 | 12:12 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

Again, an impending ­danger facing the ­region and we are under­prepared. Yet, without focusing on the negatives, let us therefore take a proactive approach in protecting ourselves in light of whatever measures the Government eventually put in place. At present, according to a scientific risk assessment group that’s part of the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, there is no reason to think the pathogen could be transmitted through food or via consumer goods. Here in Jamaica, there is a strong likelihood that prices for most consumer goods will increase gradually as the outbreak worsens. The measures being implemented by the respective governments to restrict movements of goods and people from the infected regions in China are causing supply disruptions.

There will be a domino effect as prices increase and consumer spending decline. There are several businesses that depends solely on supplies from China. Merchants are anticipating a longer-than-expected recovery time once the coronavirus takes its course. The economic impact must be addressed proactively and not wait for the shock to Jamaica’s fragile economy. Consumers are to be mindful that these events also create opportunities for unscrupulous individuals to benefit. Scammers are using this illness to trick unsuspecting consumers. They do so pretending to be from legitimate health organisations, like World Health Organization (WHO). So far the scamming activities are done via phishing emails, seeking to steal your personal information. Do not click on unfamiliar links asking to verify your email address and password. Don’t fall for it! Look closer at the email, grammatical errors and misspellings are red flags that something isn’t kosher.

As consumers, we must be very vigilant in our day-to-day activities. The government will continue to play their role in protecting the nation. Individual safety and security is on each of us:

- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing

- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

- Cover your cough or sneeze with tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

- Stay home when you are sick.

Needs a global response

This global pandemic will require a collective response from all Jamaicans in order to safeguard the country from being severely affected, whether directly or indirectly. We are calling on the government ministries, agencies and departments to be more vigilant in communicating the necessary information and updates regarding the coronavirus. Recently, a community in Kingston only learned of Ministry of Health and Wellness plans to use their community for an isolation hub after the fact. This created an uncooperative atmosphere among the residents which will negatively impact any measures being carried out by the Ministry of Health and Wellness. This is poor governance and a total disregard for the power of effective communication. The coronavirus can be as devastating as a category 7 earthquake if we as a nation fail to properly coordinate our resources intelligently. For consumers, it’s not just about the money. It is a matter of life and death.

Michael Diamond

President

Consumers Intervention of Jamaica (CIJ)

consumersintervention

jamaica@gmail.com