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As we venture back out, let's not lose run of ourselves

Editorial


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'People are still getting ill – thankfully in smaller numbers – and, sadly, some are dying.' (Stock picture)

'People are still getting ill – thankfully in smaller numbers – and, sadly, some are dying.' (Stock picture)

'People are still getting ill – thankfully in smaller numbers – and, sadly, some are dying.' (Stock picture)

There will be some easing of the coronavirus restrictions just as the temperatures are expected to hit the low 20s next week. While the vast majority of people have been supportive of the lockdown, they will welcome the limited reopening of some shops and services, garden centres, golf courses and tennis clubs, and the greater social interaction allowed.

But let's not lose the run of ourselves as we put on our face coverings and go out to greet this slowly emerging new world. People are still getting ill - thankfully in smaller numbers - and, sadly, some are dying. Too many families are either mourning the loss of loved ones who were taken too soon or are worried about those suffering from the virus.

Among those hospitalised were 244 patients in the Mater, whom we heard about for the first time on Thursday. The hospital, which is obliged to report infectious diseases, insists that it supplied the details of all the positive cases on a daily basis to the HSE. In a statement, it said: "We are working with the HSE to understand why the provided data may not have been accurately captured." That's a roundabout way of saying that something went wrong and we don't know what it is yet.

There are many questions to be answered about the reporting arrangements. There are still outstanding questions about our nursing homes, and new ones about the 600 reported cases in our meat processing plants.

Two weeks ago, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed confirmed there were clusters in six processing plants. Even after the problem was highlighted in the Dáil, some employers did not go far enough to protect their workers through social distancing and provision of safety equipment. According to Siptu, some ignored HSE guidelines and it was questionable whether or not some of them should have remained open. The industry suffered some months ago over the Beef Plan protests and cannot afford another crisis to get out of hand. It has to reassure the public that its house and its plants are in order.

Overall though, we in Ireland are fortunate that our politicians and medical experts are mostly in lockstep, unlike those on either side of us in the UK and US. Mixed messages, terrible communications, bad planning and the sidelining of experts by two male populist leaders help explain why these two countries have the largest numbers of deaths in the world from Covid-19.

There are two shining examples of success. New Zealand has had only 21 deaths and 1,498 cases, and the state of Kerala in India has had 524 cases and four deaths out of a population of 33 million. In both cases, the key ministers worked closely and successfully with the medical experts. It's worth noting that the two ministers were women.

Irish Independent