The Malta Independent 15 April 2021, Thursday

The ripple effect

Noel Grima Sunday, 7 March 2021, 09:00 Last update: about 2 months ago

In our battle to reduce the Covid incidence, we, the people of the world, are governed by the numbers.

When the numbers decrease, that means we are on the right track. When they increase, we must be doing something wrong.

It's as simple as that. No amount of spin, prime ministerial hogging of prime time, nor counterproductive exhibitions of anger or frustration can change things.

Nor will knee-jerk reactions that would turn our country into a police state.

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Although the experience of other countries shows us that countries that were disciplined and focused did manage to bring the numbers down to levels we can only dream about. Oh, to have the prime minister of New Zealand spend just one week at the Auberge de Castille!

Nor do we need the massive blame game that's going on. The NZ PM didn't achieve her results by means of a police state, although police action there was not as weak-kneed, or inefficient, as here.

The results came as a result of focusing on the pandemic, without letting other considerations intrude and change decisions. Jacinda Ahern, the PM, has pressures from the commercial community, undoubtedly, but at the end, and so far, her results proved her right.

She didn't resign herself to losing the battle before it had begun. Nor did she offer up a number of victims as if they are expendable. Just one single infection was enough reason to order a shutdown, although for a limited time. It worked.

One must also understand the methods of transmission and propagation. Here too I feel we have been inconsistent, possibly unfair and short-term. We closed some but let others open. Even today, gyms are still open.

A walk along Oxford Street would show us all those big stores rigidly closed, with no exception. I do not know if pubs, restaurants, etc were left open in the UK. I would not think so. The number of infections is now down, possibly as a result of the mass vaccination programmes. I also know that in Italy where restaurants remained open, the level of infections has gone up again.

We do have a problem with enforcement. Possibly, I suggest, splitting enforcement among different corps did not help enforce one single marker across all sectors. Am I the only one who has heard stories of bars and kazini carrying on behind closed doors, in the full knowledge and connivance of everyone?

It is not easy to police everyone and everywhere, as the rave in derelict buildings at White Rocks showed. Now that rules have been tightened and restaurants can offer only a take-away service, we should not be seeing crowds at the most popular watering spots. But we can rest assured that some will find a way around these restrictions too.

Having said all this I still think we have not really studied the methods of transmission. We must focus more and more on families or people living together. It only takes one person in a unit to become infected and before we know it, all the people in that unit get infected.

That is why the mixing of bubbles from up to four households is no gain at all and may be downright dangerous.

There is a lot of negligence and worse, even culpable connivance, involved. People not always admit they are infected,  and sometimes fail to inform work colleagues they may be infected . People who may only suspect they may be infected carry out the last errands before quarantine, thus possibly infecting the shopkeepers, the real front-liners we keep forgetting about.

It is already a crime to put the lives of others in danger. Perhaps a couple of cases in this direction could help focus minds.

There is callous neglect around and the inefficient contact tracing actually helps the transmission. When the numbers increased over a certain level, that was actually an incentive to get away with murder.

That is why I argue that imperilling the lives of others must carry more penalties than it does now and those risking the lives of others must be brought to book.

 

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