Government Steps Up Propaganda About Dealing With Potential Coronavirus Cases

Today the Ministry of Health said it has tested 18 people suspected of being infected with Coronavirus Copvid-19 but that none had tested positive.

The claim was made by Minister of Health Ogerta Manastirliu during a Task Force meeting. During the meeting she said:

“Albania may not be immune to a Coronavirus risk, but we are together to do the best we can. So far there is no confirmed case, 18 people have been tested resulting negative.”

Yesterday, the Ministry announced that 17 people had been tested for Coronavirus but that none had tested positive.

Today’s statement does not clarify whether the 18 cases tested are new or accumulative in the last 24 hours, following yesterday’s 17. Just a few hours later they stated that a further five people had received a clean bill of health.

The last 24 hours have seen an intensive campaign by the government to communicate key facts relating to the outbreak. Government representatives, directors, mid-level bureaucrats and other spokespersons made a number of public and well-coordinated statements to detail the governments’ measures. This amount of communication in one day is highly unusual and marked a significant increase in the intensity of statements from a government that are not known for good communications with the press.

The main messages presented are as follows:

  1. There is no case of infection- this was heavily emphasised and repeated countless times throughout the day, more so than on previous days. This worked well in dismissing criticisms that the government were late in taking precautionary measures.
  2. It is normal to have infected cases in the future and this is unavoidable. The prime minister delivered a long philosophical introduction to the small, closely connected world we live in, from which we cannot isolate ourselves and stop the virus from affecting us. Whereas Manstirliu stated clearly and without any philosophy that “the possibility of getting infected in Albania is not excluded”. This also sets the scene for the government not being blamed for infections in the future as it is unpreventable and the government has done extraordinary work to prevent it.
  3. The government has undertaken extraordinary measures to prevent infection. Yesterday there was a significant drop in advice on precautionary measures and all communications focussed on what would be done to deal with cases of infection. The Prime Minister, the Minister and everyone else yesterday explained in detail about the hospitals prepared for the reception of the infected, the training and equipping of the health personnel, the creation of quarantine facilities for the families of potential infected. Again this creates a picture of a government that has done everything possible to manage the crisis and cannot be blamed for anything.
  4. The government is prepared to cope with a large number of infected and their families. It would be normal for the government to talk about the smallest possible number of cases in the absence of any infected. But strangely all government officials have said they are prepared for tens and hundreds of possible cases: there are dozens of ready-made hospital beds, entire physical parts of ready-made hospitals, capacities for hundreds of families in prepared environments ready for family quarantine.

All government public communication since yesterday has become coordinated and deliberate to prepare public opinion that when it comes to announcing cases of infection, not only is the government not at fault, but they were excellently prepared for it.