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COVID – collateral damage

We in the process of defending ourselves against the disease, with a full package of measures.  Eventually, probably soon, worldwide efforts will save us by coming up with medicine and vaccines.  So far, so good.

I am watching the numbers and the press conferences by IASaude every day, and my take is that the transmission lines in Madeira have been cut. The group of people who have a chance of having Covid on the island, are under quarantine and supervision. No new, unexpected cases can come up. Even tests on our homeless population, under special consideration by our Government, have come back negative.  The situation on the mainland is different, but here on Madeira, you couldn’t get Covid even if you bounced up and down and rolled on the floor in the breakfast room of Hotel Quinta do Sol by now.

But the damage we have done to combat a now toothless epidemic on the island is enormous. I am thinking of the Fair-Trade Coffee shop in S. Pedro, the cartridge refill shop in Rua da Carreira, the new Vegan restaurant in the Lido, the dry fruit shop in Rua da Queimada de Baixo. Such small, young businesses, many of them without employees, didn’t have time to accumulate much money in the bank, they will end up bankrupt. Companies like AFA and ECM will survive and will find ways to use the state assistance to sustain and overcome this situation but what about the small restaurants and shops which came into existence after the last financial crisis? They are going down the drain. They do not need credits which they cannot pay back.

Do not get me wrong: I want to see the names of every person who died of Covid on a “war memorial” plaque in their respective cities. They are soldiers who became the victims of COVID. But I am grieving for the small entrepreneurs, who put their hearts’ blood into a new business and are doomed to failure now. Then there are the old people, living without family who emigrated in the last crises, sitting at home in isolation, scared to go down to the post office to collect their meager pension. Starvation and malnutrition are looming. People who, again, do not know how to feed their families, will throw themselves from the island’s viewpoints. These, too, are victims of COVID, triggered by Emergency rule. 

Could there not have been a better way to contain the danger? We may very well see in hindsight that the measures taken by our Government in Lisbon, applied evenly to every nook and cranny of the country, were overblown for many districts, and that they did more damage than good, on Madeira island and elsewhere.

Fear is not a good counselor.

Ursula Hahn

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