Five passengers experiencing flu-like symptoms aboard an Emirates flight 237 originating in Dubai were escorted off the plane at about 2:45 Monday afternoon by a team in full hazmat suits at Logan International Airport, and other passengers were kept on board for nearly three hours while officials assessed the situation. The five ailing passengers were escorted to two area hospitals to evaluate their conditions. As Monday’s events unfolded at the airport, the mass response of emergency crews, comprising Massport Fire Rescue, the State Police, Boston EMS, Customs and Border Protection, the Boston Public Health Commission, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, did not disrupt incoming or outgoing flights at Boston’s Logan Airport.
The world champion boxer, Mike Tyson, once said, “When you’re punched in the face is not the time to discuss your plans”, which is why Saint Lucians should have applauded the pronouncements of their Ministry of Health and their Prime Minister concerning Saint Lucia’s preparedness in the face of the threat posed by the Ebola Virus that presently threatens civilization as we know it.
I say “should have”, but you know, Dear Reader, that I am not being sincere. But before I go on, just in case I am barking up the wrong tree, let me offer my apologies in advance for any mistakes I might make that might be based on my lack of information or a misunderstanding of information relayed to me. Yes, yes, I know that seeking absolution in retrospect is all the rage these days, you know, belated guarantees, and approvals after-the-fact being quite de rigeur in this topsy turvy little nation, but for once, I would like to apologize in advance, just to be on the safe side, and possibly avoid a million dollar lawsuit or two from delicate souls that should never have been involved in the rough and tumble of public life in the first place.
Many of us are concerned about the risk of the deadly Ebola Virus reaching our shores, so it was not surprising to hear a caller asking one of our most overbearing, self-opinionated talk-show hosts whether Saint Lucia was ready to face the threat of an Ebola attack or not. The host of course, being a diligent protector of the faith, could not answer the question honestly or otherwise because his Ministry of Health had, a few days previously, announced that the country was indeed ready to face the threat. So what did he do? He countered with a demand of his own: Tell me which country in the world is ready! Is any country ready? which of course was not the point. The bullying host eventually threw the caller off the show after having ridiculed him for not answering his (the host’s) question concerning global preparedness. That guy is really something else! Even his Prime Minister admits we are not prepared for an Ebola invasion.
But don’t despair, Dear Reader, our Prime Minister, like the Emperor strutting around in his fine new clothes made of the cloth of intellectual superiority, has pronounced that passengers from Nigeria will not only need a visa to enter Saint Lucia but will also be required to present a “recent medical certificate” clearing them of the virus, so we should be safe …
You know Folks, there is only so much idiocy a person should have to endure before it is classed as cruel and inhumane punishment. The Ebola Virus kills within three weeks after its symptoms appear – three weeks, so much we know. Does the Prime Minister really believe in his wildest of hallucinations that a citizen of Nigeria could apply for and receive a visa to enter a far-distant, remote, diplomatically inaccessible country like Saint Lucia within the incubation period of the Ebola Virus? Any visa, and lord only knows how that visa would be obtained in a timely fashion by a citizen of Nigeria – Dr Anthony most certainly does not – would have no validity because it would already be months old by the time the traveler landed on our shores. And as for the ‘recent medical certificate”, well, gimme me a break, it’s not going to happen. How feasible is it that a Nigerian would travel to Saint Lucia, almost non-stop via London, Atlanta, Miami, Toronto or New York, without stopping off to see his thirteen thousand relatives in the Diaspora on his way? And what does “recent”, given the short period from contraction to death, mean anyway? The Virus is not, or so it seems, contagious until the symptoms appear, so a recent medical certificate issued before the symptoms appear is useless, except as a loincloth to cover the prime minister’s intellectual nudity. I am really upset about this. The severity of the situation deserves a better response. So let’s return to our Ministry of Health and the following report:
CASTRIES, St Lucia (CMC) — Senior Medical Officer (SMO) in the Ministry of Health Dr Sharon Belmar-George says the country is improving its readiness and ability to respond to a possible threat of the Ebola virus. Belmar says the Ministry of Health has taken an approach approved by both regional and international standards.
The truth is that the medical establishment in Saint Lucia is up in arms because they have not been consulted. They are the ones who will be sent into battle to risk their lives in the event of an Ebola attack, and yet their advice and concerns are not heeded.
This includes education and sensitization for health and non-health workers including stakeholders, increased active surveillance at ports of entry and active surveillance at high-risk institutions such as medical schools, religious institutions, and hotels.
This is unqualified bullshit. The Ebola Virus should be stopped by the international community at its source. The nations involved should be offered massive aid in every form possible – which the inhabitants would probably welcome with open arms; theywould suddenly discover that they never had it so good – and quarantined until the spread of the Virus was brought under control. No travel out of the country would be allowed. Ports would be strictly monitored as aid entered the country. Yes, Africa being Africa, where corruption is endemic, no more so than in Nigeria – the “rich and famous” will still find a way to travel, but the numbers will be small and easily monitored.
Any infected passenger has to be intercepted at the port of entry into St Lucia and sequestered until his or her demise or recovery is complete. They must not reach the hotels. And as for religious institutions, well, they should be able to take care of themselves; they have God on their side, but they might be tempted to ask why God in some sort of “hung-over lousy-mood state’ decided to reward us with the Ebola Virus.
And as to why medical schools are singled out for special treatment as “high risk”, well, I am buggered if I know. Maybe they want to make sure all the wannabe medics are wiped out. I mean, seriously folks, are there any functioning brains out there?
Health care institutions and health care workers have been placed on alert with isolation rooms identified at all major health institutions.
I simply do not believe this, and neither do my doctor friends. OK, there is a chance that isolation rooms have been “identified” but I would bet every cent I have that nothing has been done to prepare these rooms to receive Ebola-stricken patients today or tomorrow – because that is where we are, St Lucia: THE PLAGUE CAN HIT US TODAY, TOMORROW, ANY TIME FROM NOW ON! Identifying rooms will not be enough. The rooms have to be prepared and manned 24/7 in order to be effective.
The SMO noted that the ministry has increased the surveillance of visitors with a six-week travel history to areas that may have had cases of Ebola.
Yeah, sure. So a guy who has travelled from Sierra Leone via, say London, feels really great, maybe a bit horny after hours of travel ‘cos he is going to meet this chick he met in London last year where they had the time of their lives and, sorry, “fucked themselves silly”, and he bought a ticket from Freetown to London and another from London to St Lucia, so there is no obvious trace of his origin, and the amazingly alert Immigration Officer asks if he has been in Sierra Leone in the past four weeks, do you think our horny traveler is going to risk his night of bliss by admitting where he came from? That’s why we have AIDS. The human condition will risk all for a good fuck! Sorry, but sometimes things have to be said. Nobody is going to openly admit that they came from West Africa knowing that they will be denied entry. It’s human nature!
But let us proceed; another report, I think from ABC goes on: “A government statement Wednesday stated that given the extent of the outbreak of the Ebola Virus in those West African countries, Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony has advised the Commissioner of Police, Vernon Francois, to implement with immediate effect, a prohibition on persons from these countries who wish to travel to St Lucia.”
The idiocy continues: Hands up all of you who feel that the Commissioner of Police is capable of implementing with “immediate effect” – how laughable can it get, I mean, ask the Commissioner what he has done, not now, not today, but in a month’s time about the Ebola outbreak, and I can almost guarantee you, the answer will be “bugger all” – “a prohibition on people who wish to travel to St Lucia.” Where in heaven’s name is this “prohibition” to take place if not at the arrival hall at Hewanorra? OK? So here comes this chick from Liberia; for incomprehensible reasons, she has admitted where she came from; in marches “our Vernon” who takes her into his custody in order to “prohibit” her; remember, she might be infected by the Ebola Virus; now what the heck does “our Vernon” do with her? The image of the Police Commissioner clad in a jumbo-sized garbage bag – we have no hazard suits – defies the imagination as he takes her into his custody. The airline is unlikely to want to transport a possible Ebola victim back to London, and what the other passengers will think is pretty clear. So what does “our Vernon” do with the chick; does he do what comes naturally, or does he wait, like any red-blooded West Indian male, till she has a clean bill of health and then do what a man has to do with his ward?
The press release went on to relate that PM Anthony said that St Lucia would continue to monitor the outbreak and has allocated resources to prepare for any possible threat. There is no known cure for the virus that has killed nearly 5,000 people mainly in the three affected West African countries.
Two things here: whatever resources the PM has allocated – if indeed he has allocated any at all, which I seriously doubt – will be totally inadequate. Ebola spreads like wildfire. It could, I believe, wipe out the whole population of St Lucia within months, perhaps weeks. Before a week was out, Ebola inflicted travelers would have carried the disease to St Vincent, Dominica and further afield through LIAT, and nobody would have thought to ask if they came from West Africa. Allocating resources is a waste of time. What we need is action – now! But of course, we have to make sure that whatever actions we take will be beneficial to the nation if the Ebola Virus never lands on St Lucia. We have to start implementing emergency procedures that will be to the benefit of all, not to those who are, sadly, almost certainly bound to die from the Ebola Virus. Let’s make something good come out of this.
“Recent events in Dallas, Texas have prompted a heightened awareness and necessitate strong action to ensure that St Lucia is protected,” the PM said.
Let’s be realistic; nothing we can do can protect us. Once the Ebola Virus strikes St Lucia, we will have no other recourse but to hunker down, retire to our shelters and avoid contact. We simply do not have the resources at our disposal. Our doctors are not obligated to risk their lives trying to save those who are already doomed. A doctor’s first duty, according to his or her Hippocratic Oath is “To do no harm.” It could well be argued that any doctor who lays down his or her life in the service of those already doomed would be causing harm to the countless others that he or she could help in times to come.
The Government statement said that the Ministry of Health will continue to monitor developments in the US and Europe, as well as the three severely affected West African countries and will provide updates to the public.
Well, the Government in its isolation can continue to monitor world events; the
rest of us have CNN and the BBC.
And finally, just in case you should think that I am being unduly pessimistic and unfair to our PM, let me add one final reported quote: Dr Anthony says the travel ban is necessary because St. Lucia is a poor, small country that does not have the capacity “to manage any crisis that lands on our doorstep.”
You see, at the end of the day, we simply do not have the capacity to cope; the PM says so …