Many positives of Covid-19
By Aaron Santos
It has now been nearly two months since Gibraltar announced its first confirmed case of Covid-19 and I thought it would be a good opportunity to highlight some of the impressive and unprecedented events that have occurred since then. Covid-19 is extremely contagious and has sadly taken many lives across the globe. In fact, as I write this piece the current global death toll stands at 200,000 with over 2.9 million people confirmed to have contracted the virus. That said, I do not want to focus this opinion piece on the negativity surrounding the virus but instead reflect on some of many positives that have arisen from this crisis.
Let us go back to late February; our social media platforms were filled with propaganda from both sides of the abortion debate and we were weeks away from a referendum which was proving to be deeply divisive. The Government and Opposition were at loggerheads over issues such as the public finances of Gibraltar, Brexit and mental health. Two months later and they are more united than ever before. The Chief Minister has invited the Leader of the Opposition to a number of cabinet meetings, constantly briefed all opposition MP’s on the crisis, he has consulted them on any urgent legislation needed, included them in the various Task Forces that have been created and in fact they stood shoulder to shoulder in a press conference at Number 6 Convent Place to announce a further extension to the current social lockdown. Unprecedented levels of unity which are no doubt deeply refreshing and welcomed by many in our community.
Moreover, and moving away from the positive and constructive approach that our politicians have taken to date, I would like to focus on some of the other achievements that have arisen as a result of this crisis. From late January the GHA has been working tirelessly to ensure that Gibraltar was as ready as it could possibly be to deal with a surge in Covid-19, not least by creating our very own Nightingale facility at Europa Point which has the capacity to deal with up to 300 patients should, god forbid, the need arise. Fortunately, the situation at present is fully under control. The number of new cases has slowed down, active cases are decreasing and the number of recovered cases are increasing. Most importantly however is that Gibraltar has not yet lost anyone to Covid-19, and long may that continue to be so. A remarkable achievement by all those involved in the fight against this deadly virus.
We have also seen the community as a whole come together to defeat this virus. Since the Chief Minister announced the lockdown for our over 70s and later, the total social lockdown for the general population, Gibraltarians have listened and obeyed the Government's advice. This, as has been repeated many times, has been one of the main contributing factors of our ability to slow and indeed control the spread of the virus so far. Thank you, especially, to all those over 70s for staying at home for all this time - you are playing a key role in contributing to Gibraltar’s success story! Additionally, it is quite remarkable that being such a small community we have been able to deal with the virus in the way we have. A small community, but a very generous one too! More than £1.5 million has been donated to the GHA’s Covid Fund so far with businesses big and small and many hundreds if not thousands of individuals donating towards the cause.
There is no doubt in my mind that Gibraltar will have an amazing story to tell when this is all over. For such a small community to unite and tackle this virus in the way it has, is remarkable. There are many heroes in our society, not least all those frontline workers who are working tirelessly with one objective in mind - saving lives! We must not forget however all our other essential workers. They too are our heroes. From Government and Opposition and their teams who are leading the fight against the virus, to our teachers who are taking care of the children of our frontline workers and ensuring that all the kids at home have a structured home-learning programme, to our supermarket workers who our keeping the shelves stocked up, to all those who are keeping Gibraltar clean, to our essential services who are continuing to keep us safe and to the many, many others involved in the fight against this virus. Thank you all - Gibraltar and its people owe you a huge debt of gratitude and we must all never forget that. The fight is not over yet, but together we will defeat this virus!