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Government laxity is a slap in the face to the public



Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Photo: Julien Behal Photography

Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Photo: Julien Behal Photography

Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Photo: Julien Behal Photography

A feature of the first lockdown was the instinct to identify and give credit to the heroes who held the front line in the pandemic. But the second one is becoming distinguished by a series of alarming weak links in our chain of protection.

There has been a weakening in public resolve, but the revelation that Taoiseach Micheál Martin learned only from a newspaper report that Covid carriers were compelled to conduct their own contact tracing - because the system couldn't cope - was less than inspiring. A week ago, responding to a question on our capacity to cope with the spiral in infections, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told the Dáil: "I don't think your argument that it is down to failures in testing and tracing really stacks up."

He went on to say: "If we're going to have a couple of hundred or 1,000 positives a day and everyone has six or seven contacts, that's 7,000 people a day that have to be contact-traced. You'd need an army of people, probably bigger than our army."

If these limitations were so widely understood, why wasn't action taken before now?

More puzzling still is why the Taoiseach was so taken by surprise when there was such overwhelming evidence the system was overburdened.

After accepting what Mr Martin himself admitted were the strictest measures in Europe, it must come as a slap in the face to the public to recognise the Government has not managed its own responsibilities better.

It is not good enough that cracks in a key pillar in the battle to keep us safe should have been exposed.

The second wave should have been anticipated and planned for.

It was repeatedly stated over the past eight months how it was the second wave of Spanish Flu in 1918 that was the more lethal.

It is accepted that health agencies are trying their best, but they must have the personnel to do so.

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Labour leader Alan Kelly described the breakdown as "bonkers".

If more people have to be trained and the system scaled up, then get on with it.

We have to prepare for an increase in the number of hospitalisations, severe coronavirus cases, and possibly deaths.

There was never any room for laxity. The ­pandemic is burning across the EU.

Just a few months ago, the Czech Republic was seen as a success story. In early July, thousands attended a party in Prague to say 'farewell' to the virus, which at that point had caused around 12,000 infections. It now has around 174,000 cases.

We have been told that pressing the reset button by moving to Level 5 is the right thing to do.

The Government from the outset said this is a war, and to win it we must all fight our own individual wars with the virus. So the State can scarcely afford to have any chinks in its armour.

There is no excuse for not being prepared. Our reactions have to be faster than those of the virus.

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