Task Force to get tough on enforcement of COVID-19 guidelines
In the days going forward, the National COVID-19 Task Force Secretariat (NCTFS) will be moving to have stricter enforcement of the COVID-19 guidelines and measures, in order to keep the population safe until a vaccine is available.
Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony on Thursday stressed that many persons have been complaining that there was need for greater enforcement of the guidelines, prompting these efforts.
“Most people have been complaining that we don’t have as rigid enforcement as we should and I think it’s important that we reinforce these messages, because unless we have a vaccine and we are able to immunise people, then people would have to take the preventative measures,” explained Dr Anthony.
The Ministry and the NCTFS are relying on the cooperation and collaboration of all stakeholders to ensure measures can be more effectively employed. The Joint Services will be amplifying their current campaign and visiting communities which have reportedly breached the national protocols.
The Task Force has also written several business establishments which have violated the guidelines through their operations. The Health Minister noted that if this continued, actions would be taken.
“Once we have them in place and they’re working, we will see a reduction in the cases that we are having… I’m sure the Joint Services will be talking more about this, but really it is to up the level of what they have been doing: going out, doing more frequent visits and reaching out to those places that have been breaching the protocols,” he explained.
While he acknowledged that it has been months since persons began living in this new norm, the Minister said the main priority was reducing infection and related deaths.
“I fully understand it’s going onto a year now that people were asked to use masks and take all these different measures. Sometimes it can be fatiguing to take all these measures, but we’re doing so not because we want to inconvenience people but because we want to protect people,” the Health Minister stressed.
Last November, some 42 businesses were issued warnings for breaching the national measures.
A final warning, the Secretariat said, was also issued to 20 other businesses that were operating outside the requisite guidelines.
The emergency measures are made pursuant to paragraphs (1) and (2)(b) of the Direction by the President, given under the Public Health Ordinance, Cap 145, and published in the Gazette, Legal Supplement – B, March 16, 2020. The order expires on January 31, 2021 unless extended by the Health Ministry.
Government would have made a rapid assessment of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and found that it was fragmented and incapable of administering the public health, economic, and social measures needed to keep the population safe. The order noted that the current measures were extended to allow for further assessments and consultations to develop updated protocols to aid in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.
Last October, Operation COVI-CURB was launched by the Government in collaboration with the Private Sector, civil society groups and volunteers. It uses education, moral suasion and enforcement to ensure that the public complies with the COVID-19 gazetted order.