In our small island, kissed by the sun, we have been also graced, maybe with the succour of St Paul or St Luke, with a genial prime minister who sees light when it’s dark and is upbeat when the whole world is in a dismal situation because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Our own Robert Abela has been ‘positive’ since July when the new cases started to shoot up. He saw normality when all health professionals said that we are facing a second wave. He brushed their advice aside, went on holiday on his yacht and even encouraged the Maltese to go and enjoy their summer because covid was done away with. Numbers have so far disproven his forecasts, leaving the Maltese wondering why the prime minister is still insisting that everything is under control.

We are now facing wave number 3 and Bobby the Populist remains buoyant and optimistic. The arrival of the vaccine has encouraged the prime minister to forecast success and a swift return to ‘normality’. Robert Abela managed to possess an EU-wide effort to deliver vaccines to member states and present it as his making. After the first nurse was vaccinated in front of TV cameras and photographers Robert Abela proclaimed that “the arrival of the vaccine is the first step towards normality. During his new year message, he said that Malta is now in pole position for economic recovery.” He again asserted that Malta will recover substantially by March and all will be ‘business as usual’ by May.  And this while most leaders in Europe are bracing for a tough economic year.

Robert Abela proudly announced that “Today is a day of hope, courage and belief. The higher the number of vaccinated people, the more likely the economy will recover.” He also said that the vaccines were “one of the best gifts we (note the ‘we’ not ‘the scientists who developed it, the firms that manufactured it, or the EU that acquired and distributed it) could give to the Maltese”.

“We want to increase tourism towards Malta, stimulate the economy and continue backing businesses until they recover… In Europe, businesses are closing down but in Malta, they are employing more people.” And he spoke about the near future: “I want to see people travel, I want to see restaurants and bars packed with people, I want to see the elderly reunited with their families without any risks.” A Nostradaman quatrain? Alas, the 234 dead will not be reunited with their families. Yet Robert Abela is sure that the Maltese economy will boom.

Vaccination is being rolled out at a snail’s pace. The Medical Association of Malta in a statement said it was disappointed by the very low targets for the covid vaccination rollout. Even the rate of inoculation of front-liners is very low. At current rates, it will take months, if not years, to vaccinate the whole population. The Minister of Health said that the public will start being vaccinated by the 1st of May. And that’s when business should be as usual.

The first week of the new year saw a huge spike in cases, because of the ‘feel-good’ factor that too many acquired from Robert Abela’s infectiously positive thoughts. They went to Gozo in hundreds and they partied the arrival of the new year, happy that now there is a vaccine and all will be well. However, we saw the highest ever number of daily cases since the start of the pandemic, 245, 224 and 191 on the morrow. For the government this is normal.

Schools opened as usual but without teachers. The new education minister condemned the teachers’ action as did quite a number of Labour trolls on social media, calling teachers all sort of names.

The prime minister is so convinced of his predictions that even carnival is expected to be held in  February. He sees the near future as lively, with the citizens enjoying themselves watching colourful floats, with adults drinking beer and children costumed as princesses, fairies and cowboys munching candy floss. Panem et circenses, with a little pestilence thrown in.

Rejoice people of Malta and Gozo. Have faith. The future is bright and secure. That’s the promise you have from your optimistic and brainy prime minister who was spot on when last year he assured us that we had already won the war over covid. Our own Nostradamus.

Nostradamus, also known as Michel de Notredame was born on 14 December 1503 in Saint-Remy, France. He was an astrologer and physician. He is known as the most widely read seer of the Renaissance.  In 1544 he moved to Salon where he became famous for his innovative treatments during the plague between 1546 and 1547. He published his prophecies in 1555 in a book named Centuries. The work consisted of rhymed quatrains grouped in hundreds, each set called a century. Three years later he published an enlarged edition. Some of his prophecies were fulfilled and his fame grew. He was invited to the court of Catherine de Medici, consort of King Henry II of France where he professed the horoscopes of her children.