The Malta Independent 20 September 2020, Sunday

TMID Editorial: Covid-19 - Acknowledging reality

Thursday, 6 August 2020, 08:42 Last update: about 2 months ago

The Covid-19 situation in Malta is becoming increasingly worrying, with a second wave now well underway.

The r-factor is now over 1, which means that one infected person could potentially be transmitting the virus to one or more persons.

Mass events and activities continue to be cancelled, and admissions have been made that the country rushed in allowing such large gatherings to take place.

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Parents are concerned about the opening of schools in September; both because the numbers are rising and they fear for the safety of their kids, and also because, if schools do not reopen, working parents will find it difficult to go to work.

The doctors are threatening strike action, which is set to begin today, and calls for the closure of the airport are intensifying.

We are not saying this to instil fear; these are facts. This is what the people out there are saying.

Yet Prime Minister Robert Abela told the nation earlier this week that the situation is “totally under control,” and even went as far as to say that the numbers are so high because of the migrants who were recently rescued by Malta, many of whom turned out to be positive for the Coronavirus.

Many were left puzzled and in disbelief at hearing the PM speak about positivity and normality when it is very clear that the number of cases is on the rise and could continue to increase.

We are not saying that the PM should go on television to preach doom and gloom, but some perspective and sense of reality would be really appreciated at this stage.

Things have to be said as they are. The seriousness of the situation has to be acknowledged and the authorities must put our minds at rest and assure us that they are handling the situation and will take all necessary measures.

Clearly, none of us want to return to the situation we found ourselves in last March. No one wants to see the airport closed, restaurants and bars shutting down, and the re-introduction of laws banning the gatherings of more than three people.

But it is clear that some new guidelines or rules need to be put in place to slow down the spread of the virus again. This is more important now as we approach influenza season.

The problem is that, instead of reassurance and clear advice, we are once again being given contradicting statements by the Prime Minister and the health authorities. One is telling us that it’s all fine, the other that we need to keep taking all precautions. So, which is it?

From the amount of calls and emails we receive daily in the newsroom, it is clear that the majority of people out there are not sure what they are supposed to be doing. And, unfortunately, we do not always have the answers for them.

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the government and the health authorities to issue such advice. People want our politicians to be realistic, and not try and paint a scenario which is totally different to what they are seeing or feeling.

So, let’s stop playing with words, say it as it is, and take the necessary measures now, before it gets completely out of hand.

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