MPs and Parliament's secretary general make a toast on Tuesday on the occasion of the opening of the new parliamentary year.
PHILIPSBURG--Getting control of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the number one priority of government, Governor Eugene Holiday said during his address at the opening of the new parliamentary year on Tuesday.
Given the increase in the applications for financial aid there is a need for more programmes in the year 2021-2022 to overcome and cope with the loss of income, and to create economic opportunities for persons in need as a result of the crisis, Holiday indicated.
He said government is continuing to assess the situation to ensure timely response in the ever-changing COVID-19 environment. This calls for continuous cooperation with stakeholders at home and with partners in the Kingdom.
“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the world and here at home. This fourth wave has pushed hospital facilities and personnel to their limit as they treat the inflow of COVID-19 patients,” Holiday told attendees, which included ministers and Members of Parliament. “And there is no indication how long the effects of the pandemic will last.”
Holiday said the past 19 months have been like none the country has seen before. Since the start of the pandemic the virus has infected some 3,979 persons, hospitalized some 183 persons, and taken the lives of 57 persons, of which 29 since June of this year.
“It saddens me each time I learn of the passing of another person because of COVID. These are not just statistics, they are our grandparents, our parents, our siblings, our relatives, our friends, our colleagues, and our neighbours,” Holiday said, extending heartfelt condolences to the families who have lost loved ones. “And I pray for the recovery of everyone who is suffering from COVID-19. In the face of the exceptional challenges of this pandemic, I call on everyone to do their part, that is to wear masks, to practice social distancing and to get vaccinated, and thus protect each other and contribute to our recovery.”
Holiday said the economy was just starting to recover from the impact of Hurricane Irma when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. This has, in addition to the ensuing health crisis, presented major social, economic, and financial challenges for residents and the country. In 2020, economic activity declined by 24 per cent, resulting in a substantial rise in the number of unemployed persons. Leaving many businesses and families struggling to make ends meet and widening the deficit of government to NAf.160 million in 2020.
Government’s activities as a result, have and continue to be dominated by efforts to mitigate the spread and to protect residents from COVID-19 infections. To manage the health crisis the government has implemented a mix of COVID-19 measures, which Holiday listed.
While thousands have been vaccinated, as long as there are active cases, it is critical that more people get vaccinated to achieve the 85-per-cent vaccination rate. “We must not let our guard down; we have an individual and collective responsibility to keep each other safe. With each person who gets vaccinated, all of us become safer, bringing us one step closer to the end of the pandemic,” Holiday said. “And achieving the end of the pandemic is an essential precondition for economic recovery.”