Once again, silly me, scrolling through the interwebs and reading the comment sections of stories on media pages. I had to stop and slap myself when I read a number of people calling for the cancellation of Carnival 2020 due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus in China and one case in the US.

Contrary to my initial thoughts, the Coronavirus has nothing to do with the Mexican light beer with those corny commercials where they try to look cool. Unless every time someone catches the flu a Corona gets its lime.

This virus is particularly dangerous as it causes respiratory distress in those at risk and there is no treatment for it. The damn thing is drug resistant, like Willie Nelson.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the virus is also mutating – much like how Naila changes like a chameleon every time I see her – which makes it even harder to fight. So I get why people would be worried.

Given the recent spate of H1N1 cases and deaths in the country I wouldn’t blame anyone who doesn’t have full faith in the ability of the Ministry of Health to take care of us. Given the proliferation of foreigners and locals wearing camouflage on the streets and in fete I also wouldn’t blame anyone who doesn’t have faith in the ability of the Immigration Division to detect anything at our borders.

However, cancelling Carnival is not the answer. Let me just hit you with some stats to support my view which is based mainly on my desire to wine and jam in the streets.

According to the Ministry of Planning and Development, in 2018 total visitors during the 19 days leading up to Carnival were 33,873 persons. In 2017 Carnival celebrations accounted for just 1.6% of total international air arrivals. So stopping Carnival alone is not going to protect us that much.

Another important stat is that those Carnival visitors alone spent over $318 million in 2018 and their spending has averaged over $300 million every year for at least the last 5 years. Not sums to sneeze at…pun intended.

This does not factor in all the trickle down jobs and income created as a result of the national festival. It doesn’t factor in the exposure to the world that would drive further arrivals and more revenue.

The irony is, the people making this call for cancellation are probably the very people who have been complaining that the economy is stagnant and that the powers that be don’t seem to have a plan. These are the same people who are now voluntarily asking the authorities to push the economy off a cliff.

So ladies and gentlemen, let’s not speak craziness about cancelling Carnival. No need to get hysterical. Stock up on your Redoxon, Panadol, Moringa, Zebapique, Noni juice, goat’s blood, suck a “prutigal” or whatever you use for your ailments and let’s not panic….yet.


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