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EU must be creative to help with a return to normality

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Getting countries back on their feet will require a creative approach, unlike anything the EU has delivered to date.

Getting countries back on their feet will require a creative approach, unlike anything the EU has delivered to date.

Getting countries back on their feet will require a creative approach, unlike anything the EU has delivered to date.

In virtually every hospital and nursing home in the country today, exhausted health workers are wondering how to summon the energy to meet the limitless demands they face. Families are enduring bottomless grief, and patients are fighting for their lives. So those inclined to roll their eyes at the Taoiseach's announcement the lockdown will be pushed out until May 5 might think about walking in their shoes before complaining.

Mr Varadkar has appealed for solidarity over self interest. It is the virus that has driven us into our homes, not Government decree.

Nonetheless, the lockdown cannot go on indefinitely. Government officials are rightly examining strategies for a "phased" exit from travel and social restrictions.

But as Health Minister Simon Harris warned, we will have to move on to "a different terrain" in the coming months.

Such a move, however tentative, is inevitable. People are worried about futures and livelihoods. Getting a handle on the pandemic can be achieved, but there is some way to go. We are used to living calibrated lives rounded by routine. For the first time in most of our lives, this power of agency has been stripped away. The scenes of mass burials in New York State serve as a grim reminder of how high the stakes are.

A return to normality, or at least an acceptable level of brokenness, must still be our priority. To this end, testing and tracing procedures have to be enhanced.

Opposition calls for the Government to reveal the number of potential coronavirus patients still waiting to be tested cannot be dismissed. Plan as we might, it is the virus that will decide what happens next.

As Dr Cillian de Gascun explained so vividly on RTÉ, experiences in Italy and the US show us that "given the opportunity, this virus will run rampant". Schedules still seem to count for little, as this year's Leaving Certificate students are learning. Hopefully the provisional late summer sitting can be achieved. They might have hoped for more certainty, but like so much else, precise dates are not yet within grasp. Moves towards government formation are accelerating but there is an alarming lack of urgency in some political quarters to step up to the plate in an hour of national need.

At least some degree of agreement was finally arrived at in Brussels to put a package together to help countries through the emergency. It is to be welcomed, though unlikely to be enough. Countries which will need assistance are suffering not due to their own misconduct or mistakes but due to a broad public health effort. Massive unemployment is a result of economies being put into comas.

Getting them back on their feet will require a creative approach, unlike anything the EU has delivered to date. A quick recovery depends on the right response. On a country by country basis, while frailties were exposed, so too were inspirational strengths.

Irish Independent