“What I saw shocked me.” These were the words of a Maltese emergency doctor who left her house for something other than work or essential grocery shopping for the first time in nearly two weeks today… only to find a busy Sliema promenade with people “going about their day as if it’s a normal Saturday”.
“Spending 8-12 hours a day at work wearing a mask has meant that I really needed some fresh air,” Nicola Bonello explained in a Facebook post shared earlier this afternoon. “In my naïveté I thought I would only come across some people walking their dogs or going for a brisk walk or jog alone.”
What she found instead, though, were groups of people seemingly just walking down the promenade as if nothing was actually happening, with some very clear malpractices quickly highlighted.
“I saw the elderly in groups, sitting on benches or playing with their grandchildren,” Bonello recounted. “I saw groups of people who obviously live in different households on a leisurely stroll. I saw people stopping to give high fives to acquaintances.”
“How high do you want the numbers to be to take it seriously? How many people need to die?”
“How many ITU beds do you want filled?” Bonello continued. “How many infected doctors and nurses do you want? Do you want a situation where sick health care workers need to go to work anyway as otherwise there will be no one to man the hospital?”
Soon enough, though, Bonello remarked that maybe “a different approach” would reach more people: “How many businesses do you want to shut down? How many people do you want to see unemployed? How many families do you want to see under the poverty line?”
“Please enlighten me as I am feeling hopeless.”
“Whilst most of my colleagues have left home and made life changing sacrifices people are still going on about their day as if it’s a normal Saturday,” Bonello went on.
“I can’t remember the last time I hugged my parents or kissed my fiancé.”
“I have no idea when the next time I will be able to have any meaningful contact with my loved ones will be,” Bonello said. “But this isn’t about me, it isn’t at all, it’s about our country and it’s about our priorities.”
“Let’s stay at home,” the self-described “very discouraged emergency doctor” finished. “Let’s do our bit NOW to prevent catastrophe later. Let’s be proactive. The more we social distance and isolate the quicker this will be a memory. But the longer we keep trying to live our lives as if it’s business as usual, the longer it’s going to be until we actually return to business as usual.”