If Robert Abela is reaching the conclusion that the country is ready to live without Covid-19, he should have some scientific basis to back that decision up. I’m sorry but it is a cop-out to now say the science is too flimsy. The science and the mathematics were extremely compelling when our children were ordered out of school, our airport was closed, migrants were left to drown at sea and tens of thousands of businesses were dragged to the edge of disaster, in some cases nudged over that edge. If objecting to the dismantling of the anti-Covid-19 measures is irrational, then there must have been some rationality when they were put up in the first place.
Chris Fearne often repeated the mantra that the lockdown measures are needed to harness a potential tsunami and pressing it down into a manageable tide. River, sorry. He used to say river.
His argument was not that this would destroy Covid-19 but that it would ensure our health services would be able to cope with the pressures of demand because of Covid-19 infections. We would be able to have enough ITU beds, enough ventilators, enough healthcare workers with enough personal protection equipment and enough woman and man hours for doctors and nurses to be able to stand on their feet.
The decks at hospital were cleared for this. All healthcare that could be postponed, was. Trenches were dug and field hospitals were commissioned in readiness for a virulent invasion.
Perhaps the health authorities over-planned. As it turned out most ITU beds were never slept in and almost all ventilators were left unused. All the stress and the frenzied expectation, the melodramatic videos and the sweeping drone shots, the late-night applauses and flag waving, did not accompany tears for loss of life either for patients or their carers.
If there is anything worth celebrating, that would be the relief that we had built our bastions so tall and dug our trenches so deep, that when Covid-19 came close to our shores it found the defences too strong and went away without causing much harm.
If that’s true, perhaps by underestimating how naturally protected we are as an island, the anti-Covid-19 measures proved over-zealous. This is not a criticism. Clearly, prevention is better than cure. Clearly underestimating the virus as happened in Italy, the UK, Brazil and the US is a deadly error and far less desirable than overestimating it. We are rightly grateful for the caution the scientists advised and we should be grateful the government listened to them.
The government did more than listen to the scientists. It brought them to the front of the house. We saw more of Charmaine Gauci than we saw of Robert Abela. We quickly learnt to trust her. We had our doctor. She had her numbers and her science. She kept us safe.
What’s happening now? If anything has changed in the science that directed Charmaine Gauci’s stewardship we have not been told what that is. The rate of contagion if people do not stay apart is still what it was. An exponential rate of infection is just as dangerous to the health service as it ever was. The virus has not relented and if tomorrow we were to have the laws and the policies we had on 1st March, the tsunami we worked so hard to suffocate will be just as crushing.
If they learnt enough to realise they were wrong about that, they’re not telling us. Judging by what the rest of the world thinks, the danger of a tsunami does not stay “in the sea” as Robert Abela dismissively told us, it is in the invisible virus that people carry around.