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We must stand together in this time of global crisis

Editorial


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A woman wearing a mask and gloves walks past Red Cross offices during a partial lockdown as part of a 15-day state of emergency to combat the coronavirus outbreak in the Asturian town of Oviedo, Spain. Photo: REUTERS/Eloy Alonso

A woman wearing a mask and gloves walks past Red Cross offices during a partial lockdown as part of a 15-day state of emergency to combat the coronavirus outbreak in the Asturian town of Oviedo, Spain. Photo: REUTERS/Eloy Alonso

REUTERS

A woman wearing a mask and gloves walks past Red Cross offices during a partial lockdown as part of a 15-day state of emergency to combat the coronavirus outbreak in the Asturian town of Oviedo, Spain. Photo: REUTERS/Eloy Alonso

We are going to war with an enemy roughly one-900th the width of a human hair.

But thousands of lives will be saved if there is a collective national response, according to Tánaiste Simon Coveney. All our realities have been shaken, but it's our reactions which will determine the outcome. On our national day an appeal to be responsible in order to protect those we cherish is not so much a patriotic duty, but a matter of life and death.

Yesterday it emerged that up to 200,000 people face losing their jobs because of emergency measures to tackle the spread. Enormous sacrifices are being made across the board. Health workers and those in other vital sectors are putting everything on the line.

In such grave circumstances it would be criminally irresponsible to flout social distancing advice.

Any behaviour that compromises the lives of others has to be eliminated.

This is not an emergency drill: there is clear and present danger and the alarm bell will not go off for some time.

With GP practices under pressure and hot-lines overwhelmed, cool heads and complete civil mobilisation behind moves to curb the virus are a must.

With both a health emergency and an economic shock to be absorbed, embracing the new normal is our only choice.

Global co-ordination and co-operation must also be stepped up.

Significant economic relief and public health packages must be on the table in Brussels. The sight of countries individually dramatically closing borders jars with the whole concept of European solidarity.

Supply chains and goods corridors have to be kept open and protected.

Confidence can be gained by explaining steps; trust can be built by acting in concert; this is the tried and tested way of maintaining co-operation.

The EU must recognise there is a far darker downside to under-reaction than to overreaction in this unprecedented emergency.

Many are rightfully fearful today. At another time, especially on this day, they might have turned to the words of Saint Patrick for solace.

But today the simplicity of his prayer, "thou art the Hope of those who toil. Thou art the Comforter of those in sorrow", might be scoffed at.

Whatever one's convictions we all know the lives of our families are sacred.

And in times of danger we must act in accord so the vulnerable and not just the strong come through.

The definition of a virus is a tiny codependent microbe that attaches to a cell, takes over, makes more of itself, and moves on to its next host, according to Gary Whittaker, a professor of virology at Cornell University College.

We are also co-dependent but we are far from tiny.

We can console and comfort ourselves with the knowledge drawn from the wells of history which shows we have the collective ability to prevail, especially when we act as one.

Irish Independent