Coronavirus – responding to a crisis

 

Sir, – Can anyone tell me how you can keep two metres away from others on a crowded Dart, Luas, bus or aircraft? – Yours, etc,

ANNE DUNNE,

Raheny,

Dublin 5.

Sir, – Did my ears deceive me about confirmation that the four-day Cheltenham horse racing festival is going ahead? Thousands of Irish punters travel to the event there. How can Government plans for containment of coronavirus be taken seriously if swathes of people decide that such strictures do not apply to them? The best possible example would be for all TDs, Senators and MEPs to state publicly that they will curtail all unnecessary travel abroad, including to the UK, in the interest of public health overall. – Yours, etc,

PATRICK JUDGE,

Dún Laoghaire,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – I read Simon Coveney’s comments that Ireland is facing an “unprecedented crisis” in respect of the coronavirus and that, although the Government is advising people not to travel to Italy, it “cannot control a country in lockdown” and stop Italian citizens from travelling to Ireland (News, March 10th).

While I have no issue with Mr Coveney’s comments, I was surprised to read the latest update this morning on the Dublin Airport Authority website, as it is apparent that the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, a public body forming part of the HSE, is “not carrying out temperature checks/screening at Irish airports” as this manner of screening has not been recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) or the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

If Mr Coveney genuinely believes that Ireland faces an “unprecedented crisis”, would it not be prudent and logical to commence temperature screening at Irish airports for passengers arriving on flights from Italy and the world’s worst-affected countries? After all, neither the WHO nor the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control recommended that the Italian government place the entire country on lockdown.

In addition, the UK government is coming under increasing criticism from parts of the media for not introducing selective temperature screening at seaports and airports.

At the time of writing, the governments of Austria and Denmark have taken the decision to ban inward travel from Italy without reference to WHO or European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control guidelines, while Aer Lingus and Ryanair have suspended all flights to and from Italy. In my opinion, not testing incoming travellers from the worst-affected areas around the globe at points of entry seems incompatible with the decisions made by other EU governments and two major airlines.

Further, with Six Nations games postponed, Formula One to be held behind closed doors, ATP tournaments cancelled, Ligue 1 and Serie A matches being held with limited and no public attendance respectively, and Uefa Champions League and Euro 2020 qualifiers being held behind closed doors, why has the Government remained relatively silent on the Cheltenham Festival going ahead as planned, with over 250,000 people attending over four days in a town with a confirmed Covid-19 case and a large Irish contingent travelling? It is almost as if the Government fears a backlash from an influential Irish horseracing industry populated by high net-worth individuals. – Yours, etc,

ALLAN SWEENEY,

Rathfarnham, Dublin 14.

Sir, – When are the politicians in this country going recognise the national emergency facing our country? They need to form a national government together and address the crisis, both economic and medical, we all face. – Yours, etc,

SHAY FENNELLY,

Westport, Co Mayo.

Sir, – Ireland might learn some useful lessons from Singapore, where we are staying for a fortnight, in dealing with coronavirus. Singapore is a small country (population 5.5 million) and was one of the early places to be affected. Every time we go to breakfast in our hotel, enter a restaurant, gallery, office, church or large shop, our temperature is taken and recorded, taking less than five seconds. Everywhere there are plentiful hand sanitisers.

By such simple and sensible measures, the rate of infection has been kept low, most cases have been discharged from hospital and, to date, there have been no fatalities.

There is no panic, restaurants are busy and few masks are in sight. I look forward to seeing such simple precautions when we return home to Ireland – Yours, etc,

DOMINIC MOSELEY,

Singapore.

Sir, – For decades, healthcare facilities have used cross-infection procedures to prevent the spread of infection from person to person. These include the use of gloves, masks, hand-washing, and the decontamination of surfaces. There is now a real urgency for these types of procedures to be used in the workplace to prevent and contain infection. These should include hand sanitisers placed strategically around the building and especially at entry points so only clean hands enter the building. Office workers should be taught how to wash their hands correctly and how to clean surfaces. This is particularly important with the rise of hot-desking, where multiple workers can use the same work surface in succession. A correct procedure that can decontaminate these shared surfaces has the potential to drastically reduce viral transmission.

I recently spoke to a patient who described her technique for cleaning her hot-desk work surface.

When I pointed out to her that all she had done was clean the desk and transfer the germs from possibly the last seven people using the desk onto her hands, she was appalled. – Yours, etc,

Dr JIM GRIFFIN,

Sandyford,

Dublin 18.