Coronavirus: Between Denial and Mistrust in the Government’s Actions

Since the Coronavirus is a widespread disease, combatting it isn’t easy, especially after the Palestinian government exhausted all possible tools and a large segment of the people refused to adhere to its imposed preventive measures and instructions.

Written by: Majed Al-Aruri

Since the Coronavirus is a widespread disease, combatting it isn’t easy, especially after the Palestinian government exhausted all possible tools and a large segment of the people refused to adhere to its imposed preventive measures and instructions. In turn, the government is required to reconsider the measures it is implementing, especially because it failed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as there are hundreds of cases daily and an increase in the death curve. Complete lock down is no longer feasible and is useless even if it is decided to move forward with it.  Even though there is a possibility that the government will face a civil revolt, like what recently happened in the Hebron Governorate, I do not wish this to happen. After the citizens tried the shutdown, they were disappointed by the government’s interference, especially from the Waqfet Ezz Fund. Many discussions and accusations erupted on the fairness of its contribution throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. Following, public servants did not receive their salaries and COVID-19 drastically spread more than before, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. The government’s demand of partial or total closures is more justified at this stage than in the previous one, in order for the disease not to kill our loved ones; however, this is not enough. The government’s role should not be limited to this, but rather it must take several measures, the most prominent of which are:

  1. The necessity to keep health facilities and hospitals free from COVID-19. The quick spread of the virus, as what happened in some health facilities, highlights the failure of the Ministry of Health in placing precautionary measures that protect them, thus leading to their closure. Closing them, God forbid, means exposing the lives of sick citizens to a danger that exceeds the severity of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The preservation of the lives of hundreds of patients who do not have COVID-19 requires the protection and safety of these facilities.
  2. Providing highly qualified medical teams in all health facilities that were established to treat those who have COVID-19 and strict medical control from the Ministry in order to prevent mistakes that put people’s lives at risk. Some countries of the world indicated that medical mistakes were carried out with the people who were put on artificial respirators that led to their death. Thus, all medical protocols in Palestine must be monitored and details of the patient’s medical history and changes in health conditions must be given special attention.
  3. The necessity for the Palestinian Ministry of Education to announce its readiness to start the first semester on the basis that the COVID-19 outbreak will continue along with information on the start of the semester on time. The Ministry must also provide details on how schools will combine face-to-face teaching, on the one hand, and distant learning, on the other hand. Setting a plan is a priority in light of the escalating spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  4. Adopting economic and social policies that include reducing the burden on people, such as requiring banks to exempt borrowers from loan interest during the year 2020 and transferring the maturity of these loans to the time period after the last installment of the loan. Obliging telecommunications companies to reduce the phone line fees by half and exempting the public from taxes imposed on them by the government and municipalities during this year. It is unreasonable for the government and municipalities to continue collecting taxes from its citizens and not pay salaries to them.
  5. Reducing fuel prices and abolishing the tax imposed on it as well as terminating fees imposed on renewing a vehicle license during the year 2020. Obliging the citizens to drive their cars every other day in order to reduce contact with others and money that is spent on cars daily. Adopting a periodic partial closure policy and minimizing complete closure to the maximum level possible.

Personally, I think that the government should not blame its measurement failure on its citizens who, from the beginning, adhered to the imposed preventive measures, as they did not receive enough support from the government and felt that they have been negatively affected by its procedures. Thus, the Palestinian government must take steps and implement measures related to confronting the COVID-19 pandemic that enhances the level of confidence that its citizens have in it.  It must also realize that the people do not deny the existence of COVID-19, but its disappointment with social and economic measures is great, which is the reason for their rejection of the recent preventive measures.

The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the opinion of the Association or donor.

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