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A storm our leaders should have seen coming



Stock photo

Stock photo

Stock photo

“Going into a pandemic is hard enough, coming out of it is even harder. We don’t just go from a no-vaccine state and horror to a status quo. There’s a transition phase, and I think that will be this winter.” The above quote was by Jeremy Farrar, a British medical researcher, taken from Science magazine.

As noted before in these columns, we will not be done with Covid until Covid is done with us.

Leaders can easily be fazed by things that appear out of their control, but there is never an excuse for acting out of control.

We may be going through a storm, but you cannot let the storm inside. Yet right now there is a feeling our defences are once again being breached.

Across Europe, countries are making U-turns in their fight against a brutal fourth wave of the ­pandemic.

Here too there are vexing reasons for believing things could have been handled much better had decisions been taken sooner and messaging been sharper.

There will come a time to ask how this could be happening again, but at the moment other concerns are more pressing.

“Infection levels are rising in our schools and the wider community at an alarming rate,” a spokesperson for the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation said. They are demanding clear guidance and full supports to meet an escalating crisis. But, really, ought we not to have seen this coming?

School managers are also putting parents on alert that more primary classes may be sent home over the coming weeks due to a “crisis” in substitution cover that will worsen due to new rules on close contacts.

Education Minister Norma Foley has come forward to say antigen tests will at last be available in primary schools on or before November 29.

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She also announced parents and guardians will be asked to inform principals if a pupil tests positive for Covid-19; the school will then inform the parents or guardians of other children in the class pod. But why it has taken so long to get even such limited instructions on how to manage such a foreseeable contingency is impossible to understand.

There is also enormous frustration at delays over testing and the difficulties that is causing for parents. Because the virus is rampant, we are outsourcing and operating at some of the highest capacity levels in the EU, HSE chief executive Paul Reid said. He added that they have never seen anything like the level of demand before.

Again, one has to ask: was this too not inevitable?

We knew that the more contacts people had, the more cases there would be. Our hospitals are being pushed to the limit, and now our schools are struggling to remain open. Such stresses were predicted.

Sometimes you can do all the right things and still not get the right results. But this has not been the case. There is a sinking sense we are revisiting past mistakes. For now it is wiser to direct our energies toward problems, not people. Down the line only answers – not excuses – will suffice.

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