Irish Examiner view: Laxity on rules to test tolerance

Our healthcare system is at breaking point, staying at home is the only solution
Irish Examiner view: Laxity on rules to test tolerance

A record number of Covid-19 patients were yesterday being treated in hospitals for the second day in a row. Picture: Brian Lawless

Now that Christmas has been packed away for another year, the cold reality of our situation, and the limited number of
options we have to fight the pandemic, are all too apparent.

That a record number of Covid-19 patients were yesterday being treated in hospitals for the second day in a row just confirms that. The worsening situation in our hospitals, where staff and services are at breaking point, is frightening. That situation was underlined when chief medical officer Tony Holohan said reopening schools on Monday could have led to “a very significant additional risk.”

The plan to bring Leaving Certificate students back was ill thought out. Once the ASTI instructed teachers not to return to schools, the Government’s U-turn was all too inevitable.

The trend is even grimmer in the North where, according to the region’s chief scientific adviser, as many as one in 40 people may have coronavirus. Ian Young said one in 100 had a Covid-19 diagnosis in the last week, but that is likely to be an under-representation of the true number of cases, because many people are asymptomatic and are not diagnosed.

Those views were confirmed when the World Health Organisation warned that Europe is at a tipping point, that Covid-19 is spreading very fast, and the arrival of a new variant has created an “alarming situation”. 

Hans Kluge, the WHO’s Europe director, said vaccines offered “new tools” but almost half the 53 countries in the region were reporting a seven-day incidence rate of more than 150 new cases per 100,000 people, a quarter had recorded a more than 10% surge in a week.

London is hardly cheering either. There, hospitals could soon be overwhelmed and left short of almost 5,500 beds they need to cope with the explosion in cases, NHS leaders have revealed.

Anyone who is not concerned by these figures should take pause and consider the difference between bravado and bravery. One is dangerous, the other usually inspiring. 

Even though the great majority of people view these figures with growing concern, they must respond responsibly which will mean a less tolerant response to those who choose to ignore public health rules is likely sooner rather than later.

Our healthcare system is at breaking point, staying at home is the only solution.

More in this section

Lunchtime
News Wrap

A lunchtime summary of content highlights on the Irish Examiner website. Delivered at 1pm each day.

Sign up
Revoiced
Newsletter

Our Covid-free newsletter brings together some of the best bits from irishexaminer.com, as chosen by our editor, direct to your inbox every Monday.

Sign up