On March 6, Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) urged members to introduce restrictions on the number of people who could visit their care facilities.
The group representing 400 private and voluntary nursing homes said children, groups and any non-essential visits should be banned due to the spread of the coronavirus.
The worldwide pandemic has shown older people are the most vulnerable to the deadly virus. A few days later on March 10, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said the restrictions on nursing home visits were not necessary and could affect the mental well-being of residents.
During one of his briefings, Mr Holohan said: "When we come to a point where we might need to issue those instructions they are going to be advised to restrict visiting, it might be in place for a considerable length of time.
"What we want to do is avoid introducing measures like that that have that kind of social impact before they are really necessary," he added.
Yesterday, 21 days later, Mr Holohan and his National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) sat down to draft new guidelines for nursing homes.
The move came after the latest HSE data showed there were 23 clusters of Covid-19 cases in nursing homes and the median age of those passing away from the virus was 86.
The 'Sunday Independent' reported two weeks ago that 14 residents in one nursing home had been diagnosed with the coronavirus.
Despite writing to the Health Minister two weeks ago, NHI secured a meeting with Simon Harris only on Monday.
The group has been in contact with HSE officials during this period, but yesterday NHI chief executive Tadhg Daly said his sector was "not treated as a priority" by the Government.
Mr Harris has been busy, as has Mr Holohan over the last two weeks and no one would question their work ethic.
There has also been a lot of public support for the Government's efforts during this awful health crisis.
However, there are questions to answer over why three weeks into the fight against the virus the Government is only now drafting a plan to protect people who will feel the worst impacts of the virus.
From day one, it knew older people were the group least likely to survive the virus and there are a lot of them in nursing homes.
There has been time for lots of video messages on social media, 'Late Late Show' appearances and even a question and answer session for children in the last three weeks. Communication is key to battling the virus and the empty streets in our towns and cities show it is working.
But it is peculiar that three weeks into the emergency, the Government looks as if it is playing catch-up on addressing the impact of the virus on nursing homes.
The relationship between the private nursing home sector and the Government in recent years has not been a good one.
Ministers see them as money-grabbing private businesses that charge their residents extortionate fees. And the nursing home sector believes the Government does not show it enough respect for the vital service they provide.
There was even conflicting versions of what was agreed after Mr Harris met NHI on Monday.
Now is not a good time for friction between two groups involved in protecting the elderly from the virus. One of the most distressing aspects of this crisis has been the death of the funeral. There will be many more lonely burials of loved ones taken from their families by the virus. It should be a priority to ensure all is done to prevent this awful end for as many people as possible.