Fake news has inundated the dubious social media during the few months that we have been under the grip of Covid 19.
We have also followed the tug of war between those who were advising caution in the defence of the citizens against the disease and those who were pushing for a relaxation of the controls that were put in place.
The Pro-Health Group
On one side were the Health Professionals who adopted a scientific attitude bringing to bear their knowledge of clinical diagnosis and treatment, as well as their constantly updated virus database and knowledge. They could accurately assess the reports they were receiving from the health authorities in other countries as well as the many laboratories who were examining the virus virility that was being detected in infected patients. They had the information to make a risk assessment of the danger facing the Maltese population.
They repeatedly advised on social distancing, wearing masks, staying at home, public meetings, lockdown of business and entertainment establishments – all this to limit contamination. They also resisted opening the islands’ gates, especially the airport. The Minister of Health dutifully supported the Health Professionals. The Trade Unions representing doctors, nurses, and health workers, who are the front liners in such issues, were also very vociferous in favour of tight controls and a strictly scientific approach.
The Pro Wealth Group
On the other hand, were the business leaders who were feeling the pinch of slow down, and in many cases a close down of business. One can understand the problems when cash ceases to flow and expense commitments keep staring you in the face. Even though the government tried to help with the cash flow problem, the commercial synergies were interrupted and disrupted, and some businesses would have found it exceedingly difficult to balance their operation. Especially if banks maintained their bureaucratic myopic vision. In such situations, handouts do not do the trick.
Pressure started to build as early as late April to relax the safeguards in place to protect the citizens. In their reasoning, the immediate economic and financial considerations took precedence to the consideration of the risk of a second wave and the disastrous effect not only on the people’s health but even on the economy and therefore on their own financial situation. The economic ministries and the prime minister were impressed by these arguments and one can see today that as they implemented a release of all controls; they are in the press wallowing in the perceived results.
Now we are quite relaxed in the belief that Covid 19 has disappeared. The disciplines that we endured for the past weeks are going to the wind. Masks are seldom seen, gatherings in public are becoming bigger and bigger and our gates have opened. Our tourism minister is happily announcing the hundreds of thousand visitors that will be visiting us by year-end, even from countries where the pandemic is still raging. The citizens are questioning what protocols and procedures have been put in place to shield them from importing the virus again into Malta.
Logistics not Statistics
It must be understood that the control of a pandemic is not determined by statistics, but by logistics. The number of infections is much less important than the place and the trail of the contamination. In fact, for some time it was worrying how the core of infections at the hospitals did not appear to be under control, with most of the reported infections originating there.
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