The way in which the management of the COVID-19 pandemic is unfolding in our country is, to say the least, bizarre and surreal in a negative sense. We have a limelight-hogging superintendent of public health who seems to have become just the mouthpiece for whoever is really calling the shots.
In this way, the decisions taken in the shady corridors of power, on the basis of what-suits-who-best criteria, are given a semblance of medical or scientific legitimacy.
How far this is from reality can only be seen and felt when comparisons are drawn between the draconian right hand being applied against the ‘little’ people, and the left hand waiving measures and waving in mass events making a lot of money for some, and increasing the health risks for many.
Let me first give a telling example of what I experienced in the week that the infamous ‘hotel takeover’ party was organised. It came as no surprise that the waving and waiving left-hand’s green-lighting of this event, with no protective measures taken, would result in a fresh cluster of COVID-19 infections.
Where was our much vaunted superintendence of public health, when the irresponsible decision to hold this party was taken? Was it simply a ‘hotel takeover’, or was it a takeover of the medical and scientific rationale by the commercial interests of the few?
In that same week, I was slapped back into conscious reality by the draconian left hand. A very close family member was admitted to hospital to be treated for a very serious medical condition. Her daughter, a doctor herself, flew in to Malta in order to be with her mother. The forbidding right hand was immediately raised, not allowing her to have any contact with her ailing mother, and enforcing a quarantine period.
In the midst of all this, and of the ensuing public concern, our superintendence waits for political direction
We, the rest of the family, are also being prevented from visiting our very sick close relative. In the meantime, hundreds of young revellers were waved into a party, where the main protagonist ended up being the coronavirus that, finding an ideal transmission environment, jumped from one person to another.
Are we expected to believe that the decision to allow such events was taken on the basis of science and medical reasons? Or is the reality that commercial interests, influenced political decisions then implemented by the superintendence?
Do not get me wrong. I am totally in favour and appreciative of the measures taken to protect my family member, however much difficulty and emotional stress it is putting us through. There are sound medical reasons for that, and since there are no other interests at play, these objective criteria rule. What is not at all understandable is why there seems to be a different science when it comes to hoteliers making money.
Maltese society in general has responded well to the situation. We have seen festa enthusiasts and the Church severely limiting all activities that for so many of them involve months of preparation and sacrifice, leading to a weekend of satisfaction. Most of that was forsaken in the interest of the greater good.
Why should mass events still be held in the interest of the lesser good? It is clearly a case of two weights and two measures, and dubious decisions being taken on subjective criteria being forced through a prima facie acceptable fount of information.
Last week I noted that major local organisers cancelled all their events, because they “feel that taking some time to have a better understanding of the recent increase in cases, and to ensure the safeguarding of your health, is the right thing to do.” I also noted that the Medical Association of Malta is threatening industrial action unless all such events are banned by law from tomorrow, and not by dependence on the good sense, where present, of the organisers.
And in the midst of all this, and of the ensuing public concern, our superintendence waits for political direction.
A lot of suggestions have been spouted about a Ġieħ ir-Repubblika award. Allow me to field mine. I hereby collectively nominate all the front-liners in the wards who have been, and still are, fighting this war, facing and treating all patients with the same dedication and care, irrespective of nationality, age, colour or other such silly distinctions.
They are the truly deserving, the invisible army that soldiers on against all odds, and sometimes even against the consequences of the decisions taken by their political masters, and endorsed by those who should know better, but apparently either do not, or do not wish to.
Victor Scerri, ex-PN general council president
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