With Covid-19 cases spiking to dramatic record highs in recent days, the territory is facing a national health emergency.

To keep the community safe, everyone must work together.

The first order of business is clear. Residents who are not yet vaccinated should call a trusted doctor (or two or three, if they prefer) and ask whether or not to get the jab.

Then they should carefully weigh the doctors’ professional advice against the misinformation and conspiracy theories that have been clogging social media and other platforms.

The AstraZeneca vaccine offered for free here has been shown to dramatically lower the risk of catching Covid-19 and of suffering serious symptoms from it. Experts say the risks of not taking the jab — which involve serious illness or death from Covid-19 — are far more dangerous than taking it.

Moreover, if enough people had already taken the vaccine — leaders’ 70-80 percent goal rather than the less than 30 percent who are fully vaccinated now — the VI most likely would not be fighting such a major outbreak, and new restrictions would not be necessary.

Instead, everyone probably would be going about business as usual, with a rebounding tourism sector and a returning economy.

Perhaps the community was lulled into a false sense of security because the government’s strict rules kept everyone safe while much of the rest of the world saw its medical systems overwhelmed and its citizens dying from Covid-19.

We pray that the VI’s turn has not now arrived. But the signs are very bad. As of July 8, more than 800 people had tested positive, one of whom died and two of whom were hospitalised in the Intensive Care Unit.

The numbers are likely to grow quickly as more contact tracing is carried out, and the situation will probably get worse before it gets better.

Besides taking the vaccine, then, everyone must also strictly follow all of the government’s rules and take every recommended personal precaution.

Government offices and businesses should allow remote working to the greatest extent possible, and they and other organisations should adhere religiously to the rules restricting crowd sizes.

All residents, meanwhile, should follow the advice of health experts: washing hands; sanitising regularly; wearing masks; practising safe social distancing; reporting symptoms or contact with infected people; and all other recommended measures.

The territory’s collective response to the current Covid-19 outbreak is a matter of life and death.