Egeton Newman, head of the Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services (TODSS), has walked back comments he made recently supporting the decision of transport operators to withhold services to nurses and other medical personnel.
“Our advisory has been lifted and we pledge full support to all efforts by the government to contain the coronavirus while at the same time ensuring that the traveling public continues to receive the best travel experience from the public transport sector and especially those in the essential services and first responders,” Newman told Loop News.
Newman also apologized to the two nurses in the Montego Bay area who were refused transportation by a taxi operator.
“We ensure that situation will never re-occur in the future,” Newman said.
Over the weekend, Newman had taken a vastly different approach.
“Yes, I have heard it and you know I smiled at the news because the fact is, when things are going well, we (taxi and bus operators) are considered as weapons of mass destruction, but when things like these arise, we are seen as essential groups, and we should do all we can to move people around,” Newman was quoted as saying at the time.
Health and Wellness Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, has upbraided the approach of a number of the island’s public transport operators who had refused to carry nurses from medical institutions across the countries amid concerns about the coronavirus.
“These transport operators need to stop it now,” Tufton said in a voicenote that was widely circulated on social media.
In the US and Italy, nurses and doctors on the frontline of the battle against the spreading contagion are putting their lives to treat infected patients as the rising surge of patients threaten to overwhelm the embattled and exhausted staff in the health care system in those countries. In the US, it was reported recently that two ER doctors had tested positive for the coronavirus, while doctors in China and Italy have died fighting the disease. Roberto Stella, the president of the order of doctors in Varese, Lombardy, died on Wednesday.
“Our nurses carry out their duties with appropriate protective gear, whether it is coronavirus or any other patient with any other ailment, and taxi drivers could put their own licences in jeopardy if they are found to be discriminating against our nurses. I’m very serious about that,” said Tufton.