Irish Examiner View: Outlasting the pandemic - Isolation is our best and only weapon

Irish Examiner View: Outlasting the pandemic - Isolation is our best and only weapon

As we approach the point that has been predicted as peak coronavirus for Ireland the messaging, official, commercial, sporting or otherwise, has taken on a new weight, a new force. 

Assertiveness has replaced an avuncular ahhh-just-do-your-best ambiguity. 

That necessary if belated hardening, is likely to accelerate as the full scale of the pandemic’s presence is better understood. 

Knowing the scale of a challenge ahead is always helpful but maybe not always comforting.

By any normal, conventional metric that held sway until a few weeks ago — yes, that recently — yesterday’s announcement from the Bank of Ireland that it will temporarily, how ever long that might be, close 101 branches in an effort to see off the pandemic would have seemed exceptional.

In today’s flux, in today’s worldwide circling of the wagons it is unexceptional and barely newsworthy. 

That Bank of Ireland response, closing 40% of its branch network, will have far less impact than it would have had even at the turn of the century. 

Ubiquitous and evolving technology is replacing once ubiquitous and usually helpful bank tellers. 

Disruption is unlikely. Indeed it may just accelerate banks’ all-too-obvious ambitions to have an almost exclusively virtual relationship with their customers.

Technology has not, however, averted something increasingly ugly and bloody on world markets. 

The volatility and uncertainty generated by all of the pandemic’s myriad unknown unknowns, oil price wars too, has caused mayhem. 

Vast wealth has been destroyed, values shot through, savings and pensions eviscerated. 

When or how, or indeed if, this might be reversed is even more opaque than one of Donald Rumsfeld unknown unknowns. 

Airlines are being grounded too, seemingly faster than you can say last call for Milan.

Amid this advancing gloom humanity shines through in many inspiring, cheering ways. 

Neil Diamond can Tweet a remade ‘Sweet Caroline’ — “hands washing hands” — but, predictably enough Madonna was not to be outdone in either the washing or publicity stakes. 

She has published, to her 15m Instagram disciples, a soliloquy from her rose-petal strewn bath. 

It may not, by itself, defeat coronavirus but it will help sustain the good spirits need to do so.

That objective is also behind the Government hope to keep public spaces open for use. 

Objectively, that should be easily enough done but the weekend crowds at many beaches, mountain walks and parks showed Cheltenham-grade disdain for social distancing public health advice. 

This sounds a good, decent, sanity-saving plan but it may in the long run prove overly optimistic and unwise.

It is only a matter of time before the blame game starts and it is certain that Government will, as ever, bear the brunt of the criticism even if, in this instance, it is unjustified. 

The high consistories of social media will pronounce judgement unhindered by either judgement or facts. 

However, one unavoidable fact is already abundantly clear. 

Our failure to observe real and effective social distancing will prolong the pandemic and cost lives, the only question is how many. 

Hard as it may be we have but one option — stay at home.

    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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