The scientific committee monitoring Covid-19 was back in action on Wednesday. Its members met Health Minister Dr Popi Kanari to discuss the increase of Covid infections recorded in the last weeks. Reported cases in the last week of December were 2,600, and there were some 70 elderly people in hospital.

Concerned about the number of cases, it was decided that protective measures should be taken as there was a “surge” in infections “among the general population,” although it had not reached the “phase of an epidemiological wave.” So why did the committee propose measures which were approved on Thursday by the council of ministers?

If the phase of an epidemiological wave had not been reached, was there a need for any measures? The health ministry had never announced protective measures when there had been a “surge” in flu cases in past years. No experts ever met to discuss ways of protecting people from the flu virus, nor did the health ministry keep tabs on the number of cases. Surely the same approach should be followed for Covid-19, especially as the latest strain seems to be another form of flu.

The health minister and her advisors decided otherwise. It is now mandatory to have a negative PCR or rapid test, taken no more than 48 hours earlier, to visit an old people’s home, hospitals, a doctor’s surgery, a dentist and places at which vulnerable groups live. This applies to everyone over the age of 12. Wearing a face mask is mandatory for everyone working in or visiting the above places.

This does not make any sense. If one must wear a mask visiting a dentist why does the same not apply to someone visiting a lawyer, an accountant, or any service provider for that matter? And if someone has had a negative PCR test before visiting the doctor or the dentist, why would he still have to wear a face mask? He does not have to have a test or wear a mask when visiting a bank or government office at which many people are gathered – probably more than at a dentist’s office.

It is hoped that these measures would restrict the spread of the virus and there would be a fall in the number of cases over the next few weeks. If there is not, would the health minister suggest that stricter measures be imposed, or would she concede the ineffectiveness of the measures imposed on Thursday? We suspect it would be the former, although there is a possibility that the number of cases would fall, in spite of the measures – not that anyone would dare say that.

The mistake of the health minister and the government is that they seem too eager to return to the repressive pandemic days. The pandemic is over and so should be the need for government decrees and violations of our personal liberty. There is no justification in forcing people to undergo testing and wearing masks because there was a “surge” in cases. This should be the individual’s choice and not imposed by state decree.