We are living in uncertain times where we are facing a very unconventional war – where we’re unfamiliar with the patterns of the ‘enemy’ and its behaviour, and don’t know who it will target next.

In the past few days, I have been touched by the gestures of kindness that have surfaced and which help restore our faith in humanity. From Bolt Food that is helping the Foodbank Lifeline Foundation deliver food to the needy; to property owners offering up apartments to healthcare workers for free or against a small fee; and more recently the Chamber of SMEs initiative to foster a worker.

It is also encouraging to see our government authorities, in particular the prime minister and the deputy prime minister, responding so quickly to ensure the people of these islands bear the least socio-economic hardships possible in such dire socio-economic circumstances.

Malta seems to be adopting the right measures and it was heartwarming to see our friends from China – who have their own ordeals to face – coming forward to give tangible help to our country.

Our international director at The Malta Trust Foundation, Sophie Chen, was instrumental in facilitating an online call for our healthcare professionals with Wang Chen, the leading expert and specialist in China, who has been in charge of strategy and implementation against the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The 90-minute online meeting between Prof. Wang and Malta’s top health specialists, Neville Calleja, Charles Mallia Azzopardi, Chris Barbara, Mater Dei Hospital CEO Celia Falzon, Public Health Department officials and others, including Gauden Galea, the World Health Organisation representative in China – was evidence of true friendship and solidarity.

All those who do not cooperate are joining the enemy’s army

I am extremely grateful for this friendship and the huge generosity of William Zeng, Nicole Yang and Li Hua who are donating thousands of masks to the Malta Trust Foundation for Malta’s use. I am indebted to our Maltese Ambassador to China, John Aquilina, for his support in transporting these masks to Malta.

In times like these, it is comforting to see so many coming together to help the more needy and vulnerable, not only in our country but even from as far as China, to offer help and support, and adhering to the latest advice issued by the authorities to isolate as much as possible.

We are lucky to have so many dedicated professionals, and even more fortunate to see our authorities act in an agile, cautious and well-informed way to combat COVID-19.  However, their well-laid plans can only work if we collaborate and play our part, stay at home and act responsibly. All those who do not cooperate are joining the enemy’s army. Although this is an unconventional war, I believe there are things each and every one of us can do to mitigate the impact through solidarity and a sense of altruism.

We need to understand that social distancing is something that can help us better manage this situation. It is a sacrifice we must all subscribe to for our survival.

I also urge those trying to capitalise on this situation or take an unfair advantage to enhance their profits to rethink their strategy. Just to cite one example, a friend of mine who has two children, one who is severely disabled and who lives on her husband’s income, was asked to pay €4 for six eggs – four times the normal price. How can people be so inhumane in times like these?

Please also spare a thought for the poor and vulnerable of this country and let us all volunteer our time or assets to helping these causes in whatever way we can until we return to a semblance of normality.

This crisis will have a toll on all of us, but if we cooperate and care for one another, we can hopefully emerge with as few battle scars as possible. Let’s do this together. To quote Vernon Lee, the director of the communicable diseases division at Singapore’s Ministry of Health: “The world is only as good as the weakest link.”

Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca is head of the Malta Trust Foundation

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