In part one of this series we looked at the government's response to the pandemic and how the Minister of Health sees the way out. Here in part two, we take a look at the personal toll of leading the coronavirus response and the overriding aspects of self-care during difficult times.
Paulette Lenert's recent poor health, convalescence and return to work was front page news earlier this year. If you were not aware that the Minister of Health needed to shut off for a point, you would not know there had been any issue given her motivation and approach at this stage.
Luxembourg has endured some tough times of late, not least in terms of business but individual cases of depression are not as readily filtering through the mainstream media.
Such is the way in the Grand Duchy, we must appear as if all is well...if not in Denmark, then certainly in Dudelange.
News coverage is relentless (and we here also play a part in that) and the shadow of Covid looms large in our day-to-day lives.
Though there are an increasing number of people critical of the government's response to the pandemic, and indeed the vaccine rollout, the country has fared better than others and appears to be heading toward a much cleaner exit point.
With that in mind, we wanted to focus on the Minister of Health's personal touch points and how vital self-awareness is when attempting to avoid being swallowed whole by all things Covid.
What is the one thing that you are most proud of with regards to the ministry’s handling of the pandemic?
At this point, now that we are over one year into the pandemic, I am particularly proud of the resilience I see among the whole staff.
At the beginning, it (the ministry) was full of stress and people were very dynamic, and I can still see that every day that people remain motivated and optimistic and that is something that makes me feel very proud.
When all your hear is Covid, Covid, Covid…how do you, as a person, switch off?
I like humour. It is something that helps me in my daily life, to not take things too seriously and myself too seriously. Within the team we try to have a laugh at least once a day. It’s a good remedy but it is difficult to get out of it for a moment because everyone is talking about it.
When you see your friends and family, of course they ask about the pandemic. When you turn on the TV in the evening, there is quite a good chance that someone is talking about the pandemic.
I spend quite a lot of time by myself and with my dogs - and they don’t talk about corona to me, and I like to be out and about in nature and just go for walks. That really helps.
The public have had to give up certain rights and opportunities due to restrictions but what have you missed during lockdowns and Covid measures? And assuming there is no change in trends and restrictions continue to relax, what are you most looking forward to doing again?
I missed elements of my private life, my friends, being free to go out in the evening for dinner.
It may seem really simple but it is an essential part of life. Being able to go out for drinks, to eat, to go to a concert... without restriction. Without having to calculate how many we are…and, hopefully, without having to take a test or wear a mask. All these things have put a strange cover on our daily life. It will be great if we can have these pictures as part of our history.
© SIP / Jean-Christophe Verhaegen
Are you more aware of your own health (both physical and mental) given your personal experiences and knowledge of the effect Covid-19 has had on the population?
The vital lessons are not new, we know them already and we are good at telling everyone else but forget to project on yourself. It is really important, whatever the stress level is, to make time for yourself and get the rest you need. Without rest we cannot recharge. Without rest we cannot be effective.
It is challenging, a learning process, for sure, but I think for anyone that has t deal with stressful situations these things are important.
I had my lesson and I learned. So I try to make a cut from daily life from time to time.
Part three of our interview will take a look at aspects of Lenert's role and how decisions have been taken.