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Navigating our health hurricane

Damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t: David Burt, the Premier (File photgraph by Blaire Simmons)

These two words loom large today: if only. If only everyone could agree, or at least come together to reach a consensus on how we must combat Covid-19 and the deadly Delta variant — and act on it.

Fat chance?

No question this is a national crisis of epidemic proportions. On that, our leaders seem to agree. You might well wonder how it is then that the Leader of the Opposition cannot join with the Premier to agree on a joint script for the entire community.

Ditto, too, for the Opposition spokesman for health and his ministerial opposite; not to overlook the help this approach could also bring to education.

Finding fault is easy. But there is no playbook here to follow or ignore. The suggestion here is that it might be far more effective if our leaders could set the example we would like to see the community follow.

If it assists, pretend it’s a hurricane — which it is: a health hurricane.

But what we know is that this is not how our political system works. We are told that the Westminster style of government is to blame. Not quite. What is to blame is our repeated failure over the years to modify and adapt the system to meet our needs.

Only the vision and the will to make it happen has been missing — and that is on us, not on any system or style of government.

I don’t want to be an alarmist but the statistics here — and elsewhere — are grim, and if behaviours do not soon change, they will get worse. The early Greeks had a damning but accurate way of describing just such a sequence of events: those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.

It is a madness with which we can do without. In the words of the Premier, so simple and yet so clear: it’s preventable. His return to the Government’s press conferences last week was a welcome development. Our leader needs to be seen and heard. It sends an important signal. Things are that serious — and all of us need to step up our game.

Sure, there may be little new in the messaging but it bears repeating. Obviously. Circumstances have changed and not for the better. Obviously. The Government is doing what we would expect our government to do — and that is follow mainstream medical science.

The evidence is overwhelming when it comes to hospital admissions — not just here but elsewhere as well, for those who think the data is being made up or shaped a particular way. Vaccinations are not a cure, but they mitigate against poor outcomes.

If there is one thing we could see more of at these press conferences, it is this:

• Greater detail on just how the disease has spread, as best the contact tracers have been able to uncover — and not just how but why. With more graphic diagrams if possible

• Information needs to be brought home in human terms, if possible, so the community can come to understand and appreciate just how easily it spread. We need more than just numbers to convince the doubtful. Indeed, as difficult and gut-wrenching as it may be, it might be most instructive hear from the surviving family and friends of victims

Such stories can have a positive effect – even in helping to reinforce the simple but important things such as wearing a mask, washing and/or sanitising your hands, maintaining social distances and avoiding large crowds.

For his constant — but in my view, necessary — exhortations, the Premier often gets accused of being authoritarian. It is a criticism that is wide of the mark. Bermuda has needed someone at the helm at this critical time who is prepared to be authoritative — and that he has been. That should not be mistaken for arrogance, either. But, of course, that is what we do when we do not like the message: we attack the messengers personally.

It is way past time we changed our approach to our national problems. Covid is but one. There are others looming large, too: our healthcare system and the ticking national debt bomb come to mind.

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Published September 28, 2021 at 8:01 am (Updated September 27, 2021 at 1:46 pm)

Navigating our health hurricane

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