Approaching Real Test Of Civic Responsibility?

Leo Olivero

The Covid-19 pandemic represents the single greatest threat to Gibraltar and Europe since the Second World War. As with any war scenario, the people of Gibraltar must wake up to the fact that each and everyone of us has a direct responsibility to aid the war effort in any way we can.

The latest information provided by the Gibraltar Public Health, which may change, by the time this is printed confirms that the COVID-19 virus has begun to be transmitted locally.

At time of preparing this report, the public is not yet aware how local transmission or spread of the virus, is ‘first-generation’ cases: in the sense that the virus was contracted directly from people who had recently been abroad. But nonetheless, on the basis of other countries’ experiences we have to assume that second-generation infections will have started occurring, as they have everywhere else and this is where potentially, again, the numbers in coronavirus cases will start to increase, sharply may be as we have been warned all along!

New Phase in Gibraltar’s Efforts?

This will represent a new phase in Gibraltar’s efforts to cope with the crisis: with the focus shifting from containment, to mitigation.  And this will certainly change the reality we live, in in two ways: firstly, it is now certain that a percentage of the population will be infected in the near future; and secondly, the extent of this percentage, and sadly with it, the mortality rate...will also depend entirely on how well we live up to our civic responsibilities!

That may include, even more responsibility to changes in lifestyles we are used to and potentially, even making more painful sacrifices for the sake of the more vulnerable among us.

Since the virus was first announced on 16 January, the numbers of suspected and confirmed coronavirus cases around the world have risen sharply. Deaths have rocketed rapidly, most of the fatalities have been recorded in China, Italy, Spain, Iran and France with the majority involving elderly people who had underlying health concerns.

We live in a fearful world. At our most fanciful, we might in the past have imagined a cure for cancer or life found on Mars being our global “where were you when” moment. Instead, we’re all waiting for an axe to fall, waiting to be told to fully batten down the hatches and stay in our homes; wondering how many lives will be taken by the coronavirus!

In such a stark situation, other issues simply fall away. There is little patience with matters not central to minimising risk for people, and little patience for people who put their own interests ahead of the common good. The Covid-19 outbreak is not easy on any of us, but the most important thing is we all pull and are in it together.

Approaching the Real Test of Civic Responsibility

At this point, it is necessary to fully understand the nature of the threat. Experts have continuously explained that for the vast majority of those who will be infected, the symptoms will not be life-threatening… indeed, in some cases they will not even be particularly serious.

But we also know, that an unknown percentage of those infected will develop serious complications; and many of them will require urgent hospitalisation:

The challenge therefore, is not just to protect ourselves (especially our most vulnerable) from contagion as much as possible; but also, to ensure that its spread of this virus is slow enough for the number of serious cases never to overwhelm our health services at any one time… and I truly hope Gibraltar achieves this. This knowledge has been in the public domain for weeks, yet there is evidence and some ‘idiots’ to coin a now popular C-19 word, who are still not taking the situation with the seriousness it deserves!

This foolish practice, by some in ignoring or attempting to bend the current emergency law to the extreme, is totally irresponsible. Viruses, like the Corona variety, do not need any official measures to be in place, before infecting people. Because while that majority or large part of the population may have little to physically fear from becoming infected themselves… their behaviour could still mean the difference between life and death for

others.There is no doubt, that from a local perspective, at some point soon, we will be entering together the most important and delicate phase of this pandemic and why the minimisation of human contact to the bare minimum, with all precautions taken against contagion and following the advice and instructions of the health authorities to the letter… is absolutely paramount, because lives of follow Gibraltarians and residents alike are stake and depend on it..

It is a civic duty, that we all owe to ourselves and to each other, if we want to survive this ordeal with the least loss possible…that will be the real test?

For Governments and policy-makers alike, there are additional worries about whether this epidemic could be the trigger for a major recession or slump: the first major downturn since the 2008 financial crisis, at a time when major economies are not at their best, but unfortunately it looks that way.

It’s all hands-on deck right now, with both the government and opposition pulling the same rope.

No room for arrogance or party politics at the moment.

I quite understand, that the government may make mistakes, after all other governments did not or haven’t yet found a quick fix solution to the crises. But it is important to learn from mistakes immediately and change route if need be. No use pointing fingers, no one is infallible and could have foreseen such a pandemic and how things have unfolded!

Just How Badly We Fare …is Now Mostly Down to us…Collectively as a Nation!

Stay Home – Stay Safe – And Take Care Gibraltar!