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Covid-19: Why is the party still on?

Sahim Salim
Filed on September 15, 2020

Normalcy is for us to restore, all it would need is our commitment to say #WeAreResponsible and mean it

There is nothing more comforting than being surrounded by our loved ones. Friends and family members getting together to celebrate a special occasion or an achievement, or to just blow off some steam spreads cheer, laughter, and happiness.

However, amid the pandemic, it also spreads germs. 

The authorities in the UAE did everything in their power to bring down the daily Covid-19 cases from its peak of 994 on May 22 to 164 on August 3. However, the virus has come back with a vengeance, with cases breaching the 1,000-mark for the first time on September 12. Who is responsible for this? #WeAreResponsible. 

Numbers don't lie. Look at what the government has achieved: Over eight million tests put the UAE among the top globally when it comes to mass testing; a death rate of 0.5 per cent is among the lowest in the world; and a recovery rate of 90 per cent among the highest. Now, look at what we, the residents, have achieved: A five-fold increase in daily cases; 88 per cent infections caused by gatherings; and 12 per cent of those afflicted with the virus had returned from abroad and failed to self-isolate. Who is responsible? #WeAreResponsible.

Reading these two sets of numbers together will give you a fair idea of who is to blame for the recent surge in cases. Last week, a resident, who displayed some tell-tale signs of the virus, failed to get tested or checked by doctors and continued living normally. A gathering later, 45 members of three families got infected, including his wife. One relative of his, a woman in her 90s with pre-existing health conditions, died from complications caused from the virus. How does one live with this fact? How can one ever come to terms with having caused the death of a loved one, especially that it happened due to callousness? This particular resident was not asymptomatic. He was coughing, his temperature was higher than normal - and he knew it. With news being dominated by information about the pandemic; and our WhatsApp and social media feeds overflowing with real and fake news about the virus, surely, he would have known the symptoms. Why would he not go to the doctor? More importantly, why would he not keep his loved ones safe by avoiding gatherings? Who is responsible for those 45 infections and a death? #HeIsResponsible.

Callousness is not a trait we can afford amid a pandemic. A popular store in Dubai launched a discount promotion recently and saw unmanageable crowds throng it. The authorities swung into action and ordered the store shut and fined the management Dh50,000 for flouting Covid rules related to social distancing. An eatery distributed free meals among passers-by, leading to crowds piling into it and risking physical contact. This eatery, too, was ordered shut and fined. Who is responsible? #TheyAreResponsible for holding flash events without ensuring safety; and #WeAreResponsible for flouting Covid rules to save a few bucks. 

We are limping back to normalcy, thanks to the vision of this country's government and the sacrifices made by our frontliners and healthcare practitioners. Our kids are half back in schools; we are half back in our offices; we can travel; our favourite spots in the city are open; we can offer prayers in socially distanced congregations; all activities have resumed; and jobs are being advertised once again. 

The war cry #WeAreResponsible is an affirmation to do the right thing amid the pandemic. It's not a blaming exercise as alluded to in this article. It's a commitment to the basics like staying home if we are unwell; getting tested if we have the symptoms; avoiding gatherings; wearing a mask when stepping out; maintaining a safe distance from one another, among others. Normalcy is for us to restore, all it would need is our commitment to say #WeAreResponsible and mean it. 

-sahim@khaleejtimes.com 

 



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