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JM | May 4, 2022

Audrey Hinchcliffe | COVID-19: Cleaning up during and after the hurricane

/ Our Today

Audrey Hinchcliffe, CEO and founder of Manpower and Maintenance Services Ltd (MMS) Group. (Photo: Contributed)

The rain and wind are subsiding so cleaning up must begin – as we do when there is a lull in a hurricane.

Roofs may have blown off or just leaking, trees blown down blocking passageways, flooding of fields, highways and byways, communication disrupted, logistics in disarray, the economic future uncertain, people’s lives are upended. Hopefully, we made business and personal recovery plans. Time to activate them.

The coronavirus causing disease – COVID-19 – is the equivalent of or can be matched to the different categories of hurricanes – Level 1-5. It is not done with us yet. With the arrival of COVID-19 – March 2020, when we were shocked into preparing for the road ahead – though unknown, yet we did, mirroring the preparations we made for the arrival of a hurricane. At times there appeared to have been earthquakes in the midst of the hurricane. This can be ascertained by the daily positivity rates, hospitalisation, and deaths. The response correspondingly – included onerous protocols, restrictions in movements – curfews, lockdowns and no-movement days – devised to control the spread of the virus.

A Jamaican endures a nasopharyngeal test to determine COVID-19 infection.

When compared to hurricanes, there are similarities – emotional and physical wellbeing upheavals, uncertainty of the total cost of damages, impact on communication and travel, dislocation in work, health care response, economic challenges; and living in uncertain times.

We refer to our recovery plan or personal roadmap and may even identify gaps, especially if damages are profound and getting back on track rocky at best. This may be the situation in family life, business, education, entertainment, hospitality and tourism or any other economic enterprise so affected. The involvement of all stakeholders – private, government and civil society (NGOs) will form the foundation as is in the case of cleaning up after a hurricane – the proverbial “all hands-on deck”.

While we take some comfort in the lull of positivity ratings, we cannot assume that COVID is done with us. We see reports of new variants – more infections which may not be as deadly as previous ones. Nevertheless, we must take heed and keep relevant protocols in place and be ready to escalate them in order to control the spread of infections.

Vaccinations must be encouraged, and new treatment regimen employed.


At the time of writing, we are seeing reports of daily escalation in infection rates. I hope we are not at the end of “after a storm there must be a calm”, “I know it’s been comin’ for some time”. (Creedence Clearwater). Whichever lyrics apply to this stage of the pandemic, one thing is sure, that “COVID still a keep”.

It is strange though that the State requires tests before departing the country with the low positivity rate, but no tests required for entrance from territories with high positivity rate. This can be interpreted that we are inviting the virus and its variants into the country. It is therefore a heightened time for personal responsibility to protect ourselves and those with whom we associate at home, in the public and at the workplace.

Follow the protocols – hand washing and sanitising, maintaining your distance in crowds, wear masks and, above all, “take the damn vaccine”.

  • M.A. Hinchcliffe is CEO and founder, Manpower and Maintenance Services Ltd Group.


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