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Our View: Another year of uncertainty lies ahead

Photo: CNA

We enter another year of uncertainty and unpredictability today. After two years shaped by the sole government objective of controlling the spread of Covid-19 in its mutating forms, only a fool would suggest things could be any different in 2022.

Many had said the pandemic would be over in 2021 with the development of the vaccines that would protect people and stop the spread of the virus. We have seen how that plan worked out. The two-vaccines scheme, we were informed, offered protection only for six months and in the last couple of months everyone was being urged to have a booster shot, most probably, to be followed by a fourth and fifth this year. Who knows what variant will follow Omicron and what new measures would be imposed, supposedly to stop it spread?

Most people have accepted the erosion of their personal liberties, rule by decree and the continuous interference of the state in their daily lives without protest. Arbitrariness and lack of accountability have become the modus operandi of the government, on the grounds that its only concern is protecting public health. Nor is it any more comforting to know that most governments of EU countries were acting in this way, forcing people to get the jab, imposing curfews, constant testing and restricting movement. When will all this end?

On Wednesday, terrified by the record spikes in cases, which topped 7,000 in three days (close to 11,000 by Thursday), the cabinet imposed a new raft of measures that were perfectly in keeping with the irrationality that has marked its decrees. The vaccinated, without a booster, would have to show a negative rapid test of the last 24 hours, to enter venues with large numbers of people, reduced from 500 to 300, such as wedding parties or clubs.

In other words, the government now does not consider a double vaccinated person protected from the virus, as it had done until last week. At the same time, boosted people are exempt even though there are many who have tested positive since receiving their third shot.

And if these new precautions were taken to make venues safe for punters, why has the government banned dancing and decreed that everyone must be seated, in clubs where everyone stands? It is the same irrationality regarding mandatory mask wearing. The masks we were obliged to wear for the last two years, supposedly to protect ourselves and others, the government has decided did not provide adequate protection and it has now advised people to use two surgical masks or ‘high protection’ masks, outdoors as well.

Will the latest measures – no visits to hospitals, stadiums at 50 per cent capacity, 40 per cent of staff working from home, plus double masks – plus those to be imposed next week, stop the fast spread of the virus which has been experienced in all countries? Measures do not seem to work, but there is a possibility the rising number of cases could lead to the end the pandemic. Perhaps the very high number of Omicron cases, being recorded, with milder symptoms and relatively fewer hospitalizations, according to the scientists, could be the way of achieving the herd immunity the vaccinations have failed to deliver.

Happy new year.

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