The Malta Independent 3 June 2020, Wednesday

Brave words as curve edges up

Noel Grima Sunday, 5 April 2020, 08:40 Last update: about 3 months ago

'Malta is bigger than Covid-19' said prime minister Robert Abela a few hours ago.

Famous statements along the line of Boris Johnson and Donald Trump before the horrendous reality made them go silent. In the US, the pandemic has now killed more Americans than 9/11. In the UK young nurses, mothers of small children are now dying, along with many elderly. All did not deserve this death.

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The latest bulletin by professor Charmaine Gauci just now did not dispel the feeling of foreboding.

A second employee at Lidl Safi now turns out to be positive. The supermarket has been sanitised and has reopened and people who shopped there told to watch themselves and see if they have any sign of infection.

There has been the first case in a migrant open centre where people live together with only rudimentary sanitary protection. According to a journalist one of the companions of the infected Nigerian went to work this morning and two others disappeared. Presumably these used public transport to get away.

Meanwhile, we have been having those very Maltese discussions that would be unthinkable elsewhere. Such as spring hunting. I for one do not think that by wandering around the countryside brings about an added risk of infection but I seriously question why for some people to follow their hobby is still more important than helping the country overcome the pandemic. While doctors, nurses and health workers are working so hard with those who have been infected. The same goes for other groups such as bikers and hikers who see nothing wrong in continuing with their hobbies.

Other people have understood the reasons for the draconian measures that have been allowed and sacrificed what is so important for them for the good of collectiveness. I add among these the Good Friday aficionados though the ban on processions seems to have morphed into more and more Masses on every TV station.

Three weeks into lockdown, nerves are fraying and the close confines of many homes start to grate on people’s minds together with the everlasting threat of getting infected. There is a huge need to lighten the atmosphere and stop morbid thoughts.

I wonder how many are coping or otherwise – parents with small children, the elderly who need things from the shops, etc.

Along with the empty boasts that politicians make, the worst maybe is that (used by Trump until reality kicked in) that the pandemic will be over by Easter. Other politicians and pundits in Italy and Spain say the curve has flattened and the curve turned downwards. This is not ascertained yet though it may become so over the coming days. Certainly, however, there’s no question of just reopening and continuing where we left off.

Things will never be the same. When that moment comes, we will still be as suspicious of each other as we are today if not more. What used to be simple actions before, like going out, stopping at a pastizzi or fast food outlet will become an adventure fraught with peril.

And we have not factored in yet the likely consequences of a huge economic recession and loss of jobs.

So this is, and will increasingly become, an opportunity for solidarity rather than a time of conflict.

It will also become a time to change our lifestyles, to adopt new styles and new methods. I note that in retail many are now bringing one's purchases home to the client (though some are adding markups).

We are all learning to work from home and to use more and more technology. There are fewer cars on the roads and there are less toxic fumes around.

Maybe too, as the choice of the new Chief Justice has shown, the political parties have left the politics of confrontation and are on their way to the politics of cooperation.

 

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