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Opinion & Analysis

Simple rules still apply

The relief following the arrival of the first batch of Covid-19 vaccines on the Rock was tempered by the latest data from the Gibraltar Government, which reported another four deaths in Gibraltar linked to the virus.

To put that into perspective, it means that more people have succumbed to the virus in the first days of 2021 than in the whole of 2020.

Gibraltar has now lost 16 of its citizens, nine of them in the first 10 days of 2021. Let that sink in.

The vaccine, as health officials said this weekend, signals the beginning of the end of this awful period we have lived through since last March. It is, as Dr Krishna Rawal said at the weekend, a bright light at the end of a dark tunnel.

The rollout has started with those on the front lines of the healthcare response, and with the elderly and most vulnerable.

The numbers of new cases are also coming down and have dropped for three consecutive days. A seven-day average of new cases suggests we may have reached the peak of the recent surge and that the latest round of restrictions may be starting to have effect.

But for all the justifiable joy this weekend, we still have a long and arduous road ahead before we get to the other side of the tunnel.

The vaccine is not a silver bullet and even those who are vaccinated must still exercise extreme caution. Vaccinated or not, we can all unwittingly transmit the virus to those around us.

The vaccine does not mean we can go back to normal. The simple rules continue to apply: Stay home where possible. Keep social distance. Wear masks. Wash your hands.

The virus has had a devastating impact around the globe. We have all followed the news here and elsewhere, have seen reports of the horror faced by healthcare systems overwhelmed by a deluge of patients wheezing for breath.

The numbers are so vast they quickly lose humanity and become a grim statistical backdrop to our fears and concerns.

But as we celebrate the start of Gibraltar’s vaccination program, we would do well to pause and reflect on the 16 people this community has lost.

Our small size means each of them are people we may have known, or whose sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, we will almost certainly know.

That moment of reflection should provide the determination to hold fast to our response as a community to this virus.

We are not out of the woods yet. The simple rules still apply.

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