(Xinhua/Rouelle Umali)

Opinion – Focus and balance

Just when everything seemed to be going fine, came a turn for the worse. We have new cases of infection by the coronavirus in town. It might not be inevitable, but it could be expected. Unless we close ourselves entirely from the world, it was (and is) likely to happen.

On a positive note, it seems the border controls are fulfilling their role, as we would expect they should. But viruses and other types of nasty bugs, old and new, known and unknown, will always find a way. We will never live without risks unless we don’t live at all.

Macau has privileged conditions to manage these situations when they strike. It is a small place, almost physically isolated. It is easier to control entries here than in most other places in the world. Further, it has enough (but not infinite) financial resources to cope with a relatively long ‘crisis.’ Most importantly, the health system appears prepared to roll out the appropriate measures when needed.

Ideally, the epidemic would have been contained at the source. Without that, it was a matter of time virus spread. New outbreaks around the world mean the numbers of infected and dead are going up. But it not just a matter of statistics; the situation also changed qualitatively.

How do you deal with a new infectious disease that has spread widely in the world population? Possibly, it is time to put a sharper focus on mitigation and palliative measures. 

What worked before alone may be less than adequate now and may need to be adapted or complemented by other types of approaches and measures.

They will require finding a delicate balance between the exceptional actions warranted by the fight against this virus and keeping or returning to living as normally as possible, as quickly as possible. Serious health, economic, and social disruptions may wait for us ahead if we mismanage that transition.

That will be a difficult task for governments and governed alike. We are overwhelmed by news and comments – often alarmist, or misinformed, or both. Conspiracy theories are a dime a dozen.

Maybe we need to learn how to ‘un-listen’ to many of them. A big effort will be required to keep reason afloat, to focus on what matters. Yes, the big bad wolf is pounding at the door. But, in the end, we always find a way to overcome the challenge. If only we let reason prevail.