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COVID19: The invisible enemy

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We stood on these shores waiting for the inevitable to transpire until it was all hands on deck to navigate through the coronavirus storm that washed normality away.

Everyone inside our exclusion zone is now a potential threat to public health in a society that is quickly learning to become contactless and distant.

As the number of confirmed cases rises the spectre of a public health emergency looms ever larger with the most vulnerable in our society facing an uncertain future.

When the inevitable came and Cyprus declared its first positive cases there was an immediate and swift reaction from the government.

All public and private gatherings of more than 75 people in a confined space were banned, schools closed while all sporting events were cancelled.

Cypriots had to say goodbye to birthday parties, weddings, crowded church services while visiting the theatre, cinema, pubs and clubs are also fraught with danger.

Most of the coronavirus cases were imported from abroad where the outbreak is entrenched such as in Greece and the UK.

But like Italy, the experts say that local transmission will see the virus quickly spike among us in Cyprus with only social distancing and personal hygiene a rudimentary defence against a killer disease where no vaccine exists.

Europe is now the epicentre of the deadly virus that travelled from a wildlife market in Wuhan, China to the towns and villages of this Mediterranean backwater.

Without doubt, there will be a large group of people who will not take this pandemic seriously, especially the young who are largely unaffected by it.

What they have to understand is that they can carry the virus and slam dunk it among those with fragile health and an immune system not built to last.

Bending the rules

There will also be establishments who try to bend the rules on the limit for gatherings as pubs and clubs fear they could go out of business.

This is to misunderstand that Cyprus is on a war footing against the disease which demands solidarity and personal responsibility – alien concepts to this laissez-faire society that likes to break the rules rather than make them.

Italians may have also taken their eye off the ball before it was too late, theirs is an example to avoid but they are living a horror Cyprus can ill afford to replicate.

England seems to have taken a different approach, preferring to gradually introduce social restriction measures such as not closing schools, saying the science is pointing them in this direction to suppress, not smash the virus.

Go too hard, too early say the experts and the virus will bounce back fighting later in the year.

Hopefully, Cyprus is being guided by science and not simply wanting to be seen to be doing something – this pandemic is too ugly for political showboating.

We have to stand and fight this thing together with clean hands, at a distance without panic or paranoia but that is easier said than done if the crisis mutates into a nightmare.

But there may be more such struggles to come in the not so distant future as the UK’s chief scientific adviser said coronavirus is “quite likely to become an annual virus, an annual seasonal infection.”

He said, “Communities will become immune to it and that’s going to be an important part of controlling this longer term”.

The UK government wants 60% of the population to catch coronavirus to try and create “herd immunity” to protect against the virus becoming an annual crisis.

So, the strategy is to limit the impact on the NHS but not stop the virus completely, nobody seems to know what the science is telling us in Cyprus.

Are we looking for a broader peak, so the health service doesn’t get swamped, allowing more people to build immunity, so the next time the virus is of a milder persuasion?

Clearly, the public need to be reassured, seemingly going in quick and hard is the Cypriot way having seen Boris Johnson and Donald Trump look like the orchestra conductors on the Titanic.

Stay home, stay clean, stay safe.