Raul Rebane: Five proposals for the coronavirus crisis
Raul Rebane makes five proposals for handling coronavirus problems in Vikerraadio's daily comment. If you see a person in a public space or on public transport without a mask, point it out and do not be afraid, Rebane recommends.
Last week brought change in coronavirus communication. Perhaps the biggest change we have seen over the past year.
Decorative, mitigating, soothing, promissory and dilatory rhetoric has been dialed back. Things are very bad now and there is no longer any reason to sugarcoat the situation. We have spent many months hoping that perhaps this thing will just pass, while we allowed our sense of danger and watchfulness fall well below sensible levels.
It is clear that the strategy was flawed. How else to explain why an innovative and digitally savvy country sporting a high standard of living, robust healthcare system and one of the best education systems in the world finds itself having one of the highest Covid case rates in the world.
Time for talk that figures and rankings count for nothing is over. I do not want our country to rank among the worst in the world regarding any indicator, least of all in the field of healthcare. And I believe many are with me in this. It is embarrassing and adds insult to injury. Would we be talking about "Estonia's path" instead of declaring an emergency situation were we on top in terms of infant mortality?
Our Covid situation makes us a threat not only to ourselves but also our neighbors, and it would be very naive to think that it will not affect our lives, image and economy.
Allow me to make five proposals that could help us solve a few problems.
Do not be afraid to intervene!
Let us help each other as it is in everyone's common interest. If you see a person without a mask in a public place or on public transport, remind them and do not be afraid. I ran a test when going to the grocery store. Some just stare back at you and tell you they are no obligated, while most people reach into their pocket and produce a mask.
I believe that we can cover people's faces by working together and that it is not something the police will have to take care of. One just needs a little courage and civic responsibility. People learn the lesson after being told off thrice. The authorities will have to deal with simpletons, but there aren't so many of them.
Let us end populism!
Let us vaccinate the government and the Riigikogu. We need them to steer us out of the crisis as opposed to uttering soothing messages.
One does not feel comfortable upon hearing that the president has to apply for a shot in order to be able to do her job abroad. Such things are neither tourism nor entertainment but rather obligations mixed with fear if one has not been inoculated.
Being afraid oneself, it is difficult to make decisions on which the lives of others depend. While people who are not afraid today are fools, and we don't need fools in charge of the country.
Let us inform Russian-speakers!
Let us have a massive vaccination and mask campaign aimed at the Russian-speaking community. Maybe we will be able to change something and save someone. Right now, a part of Estonians' behavior is influenced through Russian media, with people refusing to get vaccinated, believing in Sputnik instead and being twice as likely to catch Covid.
Yana Toom complained on the "Terevisioon" morning show how she has to buy airtime on PBK to communicate with her voters and how expensive it is.
Do we realize just how absurd this situation really is? If we maintain our recent attitude, the Tooms of the future will also raise up their hands and say they have to turn to Moscow for information scraps.
Everyone but me!
The "everyone except me" cast of mind could be given a rest for some time. We have learned from the media lately that churches, museums, theaters, exhibitions, the entire world of business, gyms, spas, beauty services and everything people engage in is special. That closures are in order, just not for us. However, no one will escape this fire without getting burned.
Let us stop normalizing death
Allow me to quote Tarmo Pikner from the Tuesday issue of Postimees: "We have arrived at the conclusion that the Swedes were right. That we have to live with the virus, meaning that some of us have to die." Pikner is not alone as social media is full of such rhetoric.
This philosophy was viable in Stalin's day when it was called "forest cut, wood chips fly." First of all, the Swedes were not right and have radically changed their strategy by today. Making Covid deaths, especially those of the elderly out to be inevitable in the 21st century seems like a very frightening idea. Perhaps we can stop doing that.
The most important of these proposals is arousing the citizen in oneself – intervening. We are in this together and we can only get out together.
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Editor: Marcus Turovski