The Malta Independent 21 January 2021, Thursday

TMID Editorial: PM Robert Abela – Prescient or reckless

Tuesday, 1 December 2020, 08:16 Last update: about 3 months ago

Prime Minister Robert Abela last Sunday threw caution to the wind, pledging that Malta will be the first country to recuperate from the pandemic.

While other leaders make guarded statements about the Covid-19 situation, especially since they want their peoples to restrain themselves from celebrating Christmas and the New Year like they usually do, our own PM is sure that by March the Maltese economy will start to recover and by May it will become business as usual.

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In Italy, for example, people are being told that their Christmas gatherings should not be made up of more than six people, in the hope that there will not be any serious repercussions after the end of year events. But Abela is already thinking about March and May when we do not know what the situation will be like in January.

We all do hope that the Prime Minister is right, and that within the next six months Malta will have surpassed the huge difficulties that, like other countries, it is facing. But Abela has already been wrong more than once on developments related to the pandemic, and so forgive us if we will only believe it when it happens.

We all remember his now famous "waves are in the sea" comment when confronted about the possibility of a second wave of the virus. Well, the second wave did arrive, and it is much bigger than the first, seeing that the number of new cases registered each day in Malta continues to be over 100 while deaths have multiplied. Abela thought the problems were over in late June, early July when the number of active cases dropped to near-zero. And look where we are today, with more than 2,000 Covid patients.

Abela is now speaking of a recovery when other countries are worried about the possibility of a third, stronger wave of the virus. He is putting up hopes when we are not out of the woods yet, and this can backfire as it gives people a sense of security which can only make the situation worse, especially if they no longer pay attention to guidelines issued by the health authorities.

The comments he made last Sunday are similar, if not worse, to his “let’s enjoy summer” comment he made earlier this year, at a time when the number of cases was going down after the first wave. He seems not to have learnt from that mistake.

His suppositions stem from news about the development of a vaccine against the virus which, Abela says, will be available in January. He apparently believes that all the problems will be solved once people are vaccinated. Other leaders, abroad, are still very wary about the effects – and possible side-effects – of the vaccine, telling their citizens not to be too optimistic.

But Abela seems to know better.

That, he says, Malta will be the first country to recuperate from the pandemic reminded us of another pledge made by his predecessor – that Malta will be the best country in Europe. Well, we all know how it ended up.

Is Abela prescient or is he being reckless?

We’ll know the answer in May.

 

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