Coronavirus and public health

 

Sir, – Mathematical models of the spread of infectious diseases such as Covid-19 have been well-studied for at least the past hundred years. They tell us that if sufficiently large numbers of people with the disease continually enter a country then it is very likely that a widespread epidemic will result, no matter what containment measures are put in place.

It is therefore crucial that Ireland takes effective measures to limit the arrival of potential carriers of Covid-19 from countries where it has become widespread. Contrary to the recent view expressed by the HSE (“HSE warns that coronavirus will spread within the community ‘within weeks’”, News, March 5th), if such measures are put in place, then it is not inevitable that the virus will spread within the community “within weeks”.

Instead of fatalistically waiting to identify and isolate potential carriers after symptoms have become apparent, we should require all persons arriving in Ireland from affected countries such as Italy to undergo a mandatory period of isolation of at least two weeks. We must also be prepared to extend rapidly mandatory isolation measures to arrivals from other countries such as Germany, Spain and Britain should their present trends of increased community transmission persist.

I would also suggest that anything above 30 reported cases, irrespective of origin, in a country the size of Ireland should constitute grounds for cancelling events such as St Patrick’s Day parades where thousands of people will be in close proximity for long periods.

Such measures can help us to limit Covid-19 infection in Ireland largely to “imported cases”. In doing so they will help us save the lives of some of our most vulnerable fellow citizens; reduce the pressure on our strained health services; and avoid closures of schools and other widespread disruption to our communities and businesses. – Yours, etc,

Dr BRENDAN McCANN,

Lecturer in Mathematics,

Waterford Institute

of Technology.

Sir, – The sentiment that “only the old and sick are at risk” is as arrogant as it is foolish. Unfortunately this attitude seems to be shared by much of the media. There is nothing brave about those of us in good health boasting a cavalier approach to the containment of the virus. – Yours, etc,

JAMES BROWNE,

London.

Sir, –How is it even still allowed and possible that baked goods in supermarkets are openly displayed and can be prodded, fingered and sneezed and coughed on? I can wash or peel vegetables and fruit but try that with a doughnut. – Yours, etc,

PETRA GREINER,

Gorey, Co Wexford.