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We shall overcome

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It’s been two years since the pandemic struck Cyprus, initially with a general sense of confusion among authorities at home and the rest of the world, as well as frustration dominating within the general public.

Since then, we’ve had two camps of thought on almost everything – vaccinations, restrictions, furloughs, relaxations – most of the time initiated or promoted by experts with medical degrees acquired through social media.

Common sense was thrown out the window and the administration did not do much to help clarify matters, especially where some direction and interpretation was needed by ordinary people. At the end, the wellbeing of the public was left in the hands of a dozen or so real experts, many of whom have calmly guided us through this crisis.

But have we learnt anything, and have experiences been utilised properly? Hardly.

Complacency continues to rule, with the first three months of 2022 accounting for almost a third of all coronavirus deaths. New daily infections are still in the four-digit figures with no sight of that number dropping any time soon.

Even the variants of Covid-19 have been labelled by some as ‘harmless’ and ‘less lethal’, interpreted by many as being given the green light to roam around freely, indifferent to the health and financial hardship that this virus has caused to thousands of households and continues to do so.

Just as we were hoping to pick up the piece and rebuild the services and tourism sectors, the Ukraine crisis landed on our doorstep, inflicting further hardship to many, as consumer goods, foodstuff and fuel have skyrocketed again, without any justification.

Cyprus went through worse nightmares, surviving a devastating war in 1974, suffered from the fallout of the first and second Gulf Wars, and now this.

In times of crises, it is the private sector that has become the standard bearer of recovery. In many cases, policy decisions have been formed out of the needs and survival skills of entrepreneurs, small to medium sized enterprises remain the backbone of economic activity, and initiatives as well as opportunities have been created by the few visionaries, who often choose to remain out of the limelight.

We only need to look around us to see what is wrong at home. The current conflicts and power struggles should force us to rethink many of what we had taken for granted, even up to two weeks ago.

We can no longer afford to wait for others to show us the way. Now is the time to get back to the drawing board and redesign every policy and plan that we rely on for guidance, most of which are out of place and out of time.