The Frontline List Expanded

by Ayo Tunde
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I had sat down to write a little bit more about my thoughts on leadership matters, with my TV on, when I saw this really heart-wrenching powerful interview on CNN with Alisyn Camerota, with the parents of a young lady who lost the battle of life to COVID-19.


It was so moving that I abandoned my original writing, and in my token tribute to the victim, will hold on to my thoughts for 24 hours.


27-year old Maryland resident Leilani Jordan died of COVID-19 on 1 April in hospital following complications.


We have spent the last few weeks appreciating and applauding the work and selflessness of our health workers – the real heroes of this period. These people – how they have laid down their lives, numerous ones of whom have paid the ultimate price, just for others to live – have been awesomely amazing. We remain grateful to them, and can not thank them enough.


We have been made aware of key workers who keep the system going. These are people who make it possible for these heroes to function – public transport operatives and people like that. And we recognize their input too.


We have seen employers who have tried very hard to convince the world that their businesses are just as important in this battle as those of any other key workers. So they have compelled their employees to come to work – to keep the machines of life working and to make survival in these hard times possible.


These people – and I mean those who are genuinely working in that direction – should be applauded and appreciated too.


There is a clamouring worldwide for what everyone now knows as PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for the protection of these frontline personnel who come into close contact with the virus and the people carrying them. 


Obviously the first set of people that come to mind will be the doctors, nurses and all the health workers in hospitals and clinics. It is certainly a MUST that these personnel do not go without adequate supplies of PPE. The risks they are exposed to are just inconceivable and we keep watching as government after government, worldwide, are working on providing millions of masks, gloves, visors, sanitisers and all for the medical staff.


But the risks are not limited to the health workers alone, although they need the lion share of protection. 


As stated above, public transport operatives also have to be protected. In London alone, 14 bus operatives have died from catching the virus (so far). This is a huge number considering the fact that they might have been taking all the necessary precautions per the guidelines, and yet, got unavoidably exposed to the virus in the process of discharging their jobs. That is sad.


That list, of course, has to also extend to the supermarket and grocery store operatives. 


Governments have imposed a lockdown in their respective countries. Everywhere is shut and people are advised not to go out except for food, medicine or exercise. Now this food has to be sold by people – and these are the operatives in the supermarkets and grocery stores.


These operatives, like the bus and train drivers, will be compelled to go to work because they must be there to provide an essential service. This means they have to come into contact with members of the public, and irrespective of their health status, must serve them.


Is it too much to ask that, with as much urgency as for the health workers, that providers of these essential services also be protected adequately so that they are safe from catching the virus?

I said earlier, about the 27-year old Maryland resident Leilani Jordan, who died earlier this month, of coronavirus. She was a greeter in a supermarket in Maryland, and she caught the virus while discharging her duty as a greeter in Giants, in Maryland. It was sad to see her parents – especially her highly emotional mother – break down on global television – at the loss of her daughter; a loss that just might have been avoided if there was enough and adequate protection for her and the others who have suffered from this virus.


This is a tribute to Leilani, and to the many others who have suffered from this ugly disease.


It is bad to lose anyone to it. There is no real comfort for the loved ones who probably had no chance to say goodbye to their loved ones, and won’t even be allowed to be near the graveside when they are being buried. It is sad.


But it is even much more disheartening to lose someone because the right things were done, and all that was missing was the protection by their employers and by their governments that would have allowed them serve the people better.


I call on the authorities to widen the list of those that MUST be provided with protection – our health workers need it and they are first on the line, but there are less recognized but very valuable people also on the frontline that need be protected.


Leilani Jordan was one, and in her memory and the memory of many others like her, let us find protective equipment for the true frontliners. 

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