Like in other areas, we’ve messed up big time

Last Updated on Thursday, 6 August, 2020 at 1:14 pm by Andre Camilleri

Fortunately, or rather unfortunately, Covid is crystal clear- no ifs, no buts, nothing that a spin can turn around. You either got it or you didn’t. It is also perfectly democratic, targeting rich and poor alike.

And the preventive measures are also simple and clear – avoid close contact with others from outside your family unit, observe strict personal hygiene and avoid infecting others.

These seem so simple and yet as we are seeing, many countries are finding it incredibly difficult to observe and enforce. The nature of the pandemic is that it rapidly spreads and reoccupies sectors that were previously thought clean.

We can see this from observing what happened in this country, which is so small one could consider it the easiest thing to do to keep the country clean.

For a long time, we lived in fear, people did not venture out, streets became deserted. Then, as reaction kicked in, people ventured out, the streets again became gridlocked. Shops and restaurants reopened.

And then the airport reopened, flights came in and many thought we were going to get back to where we were last January.

Practically everyone was in favour of re-opening the airport. Without land connections and with laborious sea connections, air routes are vital to us as they may not be other countries.

That is where we began to go wrong. Along with others, we have often pointed out that the health protocols were not being observed after the first few days. Not on some planes, not at the airport, not in shops, not in the streets. Soon people began to go round without facemasks, it being too hot to don them.

And then the parties began. And the festa band marches. And the infections ratcheted up among people who had gone to one particular party and through one single person who had been to this party, to participants in one single band march, and in short to an entire town.

That is the nature of the pandemic.

Then, just to make everything more complicated, the migrants leaving Libya who were brought here were found to have a high percentage of infected people.

That is where we are now, as at midday yesterday. The spike is rising and already three countries have banned travel to Malta. Apart from the migrants who are all tested, people related to infected persons are being traced and tested. And the country as a whole is back to where it was in March and April.

Except for the not insubstantial numbers who continue to party and to disregard all advice of prudence and who thus continue to imperil the lives of others.

Except it would seem people at the very top of government who have consistently undermined all advice by the health authorities, opened up far too soon, encouraged parties and even tried, as the BBC put it, to put Malta at the top of the European party scene seeing that other countries held back due to the pandemic.

Now that people are well and truly alarmed and blaming the tourism entrepreneurs as well as the government for this spike and the possible second wave, the government seems eager to somehow revert the process and possibly bring in some restrictions. There’s nothing to be ashamed here: other governments have done it without losing dignity. It would not have been amiss if someone apologized after all the sacrifices people made.

But instead a new spin seems about to be launched. So let’s get as many representatives as possible so as to widen the people carrying the burden (forgetting meanwhile that when opening was decided and the parties launched, no such sharing of responsibility was in evidence).

Among other things that are going wrong, we’ve messed up big time in this when up to a few days ago we were the darlings of the WHO. But that was before the party people muscled in.

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