Irish Examiner View: No pain-free path back to normality

Irish Examiner View: No pain-free path back to normality

The scale and sweep of the pandemic aversion measures announced and extended by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar this afternoon are unprecedented.

They represent very significant challenges for individuals, families, communities, and for the economy. Verging towards the dystopian, they will, until the cornavirus threat has passed, change our world dramatically.

They demand levels of self-discipline and social solidarity that for many of us may seem alien if not all but impossible.

Observing them persistently in a way that isolates the virus will be difficult, sometimes very difficult, but we have no option — there is no easy, pain-free path back to normality.

There is simply no alternative and the sooner that is universally accepted the better for us all.

Yet, in the grand sweep of our vulnerable, besieged world today, none of those limitations matter even one whit. The only thing that matters is that they succeed and that, in time, the quickly-spreading pandemic of 2020 is defeated.

As the crisis intensifies vocabulary and the measures it demands will become ever more important. 

It might be understandable — barely — to view the announcement, and that of British PM Boris Johnson the previous day, and the deferral of the Tokyo Olympics too, as impositions.

Rather, they are part of a rational, international response to the greatest immediate threat facing us. Any doubt about that can be set aside by considering just one set of figures. A World Health Organisation official was as succinct as they were sobering: “It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach 100,000 cases, 11 days for second 100,000 cases, and just four days for the third 100,000 cases.”

Should that rate of growth continue or, dread thought, accelerate then our world will look far, far different in a month or six weeks’ time. Compared to our world as recently as Christmas, it will be unrecognisable.

It will make the great challenge facing our world, even that battering Italy and that endured by China, look almost benign.

Yet, in the face of that terrible threat self-serving advocacy persists. 

Today’s insistence from the Construction Industry Federation that building projects could continue showed a shameful disdain for building workers and their families.

So too does the determination of the horse racing industry to hold meetings.

That selfishness confirms the sector is just a support act for the gambling industry. This must bring the €67.2m Horse and Greyhound Fund into question.

It’s time that gambling businesses funded their own performing monkeys — after the pandemic passes there will be far better ways to use public funds. Those are not the only obvious, albeit in a minor key lessons offered by the crisis.

The unity of purpose, the restraint shown by political opponents as we wait for a new government to be agreed is almost as unprecedented as these announcements.

We can hardly be proud that it took a pandemic to end contrived, meaningless division in our politics but we can be relieved that one has.

However, the overriding issue, and probably the most important thing many of us will be asked to do, is to observe the rules so we might overcome this threatened devastation.

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024

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