COVID-19 : A glimmer of hope?
06 May 2020
Dear Members, Partners and Friends,
Across many CLGF member countries, there are signs that the viral spread has slowed, with the number of new cases indicating that they are over the peak of COVID-19 infections. In New Zealand, new infections have dropped to zero, and in countries like Malaysia and Malta, the rate of infections has been significantly flattened. However, we still need to be extremely vigilant in the Caribbean and Canada as the epicentre of infections continues to move westwards; and across Africa, where resources to combat the virus remain limited.
What is clear is that this will never be completely over. Epidemiologists predict that COVID-19 will return; but it is likely that it will, in time, transform into a seasonal influenza pattern. Until such time as an effective vaccine is developed and distributed, the challenge will remain.
As lockdown and isolation is eased over the next few weeks, it is likely that we will return to a ‘new normal’. The way our communities travel, work, shop, and socialise will be different in the medium term and local government will be key to managing the framework of this new normal. Delivering services within the context of disrupted local economies will be particularly challenging.
Many Commonwealth countries were at the forefront of the HIV pandemic. That pandemic provided lessons that are still relevant today with COVID-19. Firstly, strong political leadership, guided by science, is essential. Secondly, rather than waiting for the disease to appear, services need to go into communities to find it through community testing and contact tracing. Thirdly, extra safeguards are needed for the most vulnerable in society. And fourthly, a good response is not possible without the active participation of communities and their local government representatives.
Value of CLGF network
Local government is essential for containment of the virus, but is equally essential for the structuring and supporting of our societies and local economies as the virus infection rate declines. For most of our members, this will need to be done within the context of limited resources. We will need to depend upon each other – identifying and sharing good practices, exploring local economic innovations, crafting shared ventures and, collectively, advocating for increased decentralisation of functions and resources. The importance and value of the CLGF network will be paramount if we are to succeed in our endeavours.
Dr Greg Munro
Back to News